The Redbeard storyline in Sherlock: a lesson in memory and healing

I wanted to chat with you about a really intriguing storyline from the television series “Sherlock.” The episode I’m referring to is the one about Redbeard, where Sherlock replaces a traumatic memory with a more comforting one. This storyline raises some pretty important questions about how we deal with traumatic events in our lives and the potential consequences of burying or replacing those memories.


sherlock holmes burried childhood trauma


So, in the episode, “His Last Vow,” we learn that Redbeard was actually Sherlock’s childhood best friend who was tragically killed by his own sister, Euros. Sherlock had buried the painful memory of his friend’s death and replaced it with the idea that Redbeard was simply a beloved pet. While this allowed him to protect himself from the trauma and pain of losing his friend, it also meant that he was living in a false reality.


Now, the idea of burying or replacing traumatic memories is not new. It’s a natural coping mechanism that many people use to deal with difficult experiences. And in the short term, it can be effective. However, over time, we may forget important details or emotions associated with the event. This can lead to problems down the line.


For example, when buried memories suddenly resurface, they can be overwhelming and cause huge distress. Triggers can come in many forms – sights, sounds, smells, or even certain words. And when those triggers bring up memories we haven’t dealt with, it can cause anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.


But it’s important to note that not every buried memory needs to be faced head-on. If the memory isn’t causing any issues, there may be no need to bring it to the surface. However, if it’s causing distress or impacting daily life, it may be time to seek help or learn some new skills.


In the case of Sherlock, his buried memory of Redbeard did resurface and caused him significant distress. But he ultimately had to face the truth and come to terms with the trauma he had been hiding from. It wasn’t an easy process, but it was necessary for his growth and healing as a character.


It’s important to remember that everyone deals with trauma in their own way, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to cope. However, being aware of the potential consequences of burying or replacing memories can help us make more informed choices about how we deal with difficult experiences. And if we do find ourselves struggling with a buried memory, there’s no shame in seeking help to work through it.

I can help if you’re ready.


About the author.
Jay Roberts is the founder of the Debox Method and after nearly 10 years and hundreds of sessions, an expert in the art of emotional release to remove the negative effects of trauma. Through his book, courses, coaching, and talks Jay’s goal is to teach as many people as he can the power of the Debox Method. 

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