How do I describe a bad memory or flashback?

For example, when I've had a bad experience, and I'm in the same situation again (sort of like a negative déjà vu), I could say:

Forcing myself to concentrate, I tried to ignore the *insert phrase here*.

  • At some degree of severity what you describe becomes PTSD.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 11:52
  • True, but I don't mean it that drastically.
    – PK123
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


A metaphorical expression used quite often hereabouts is ghost of the past.

The Urban Dictionary definition is fine here:

ghost of the past

Horrific event [the memory of which one wishes] to be rid of, or person that did a horrible act towards you

I wanted to get rid of the ghost of the past, my little goat dying ...

The related lay the ghost of something (to rest) is relevant:

lay the ghost of something (to rest)

​ to finally stop being worried or upset about something that has worried or upset you for a long time:

With one stunning performance, he has laid to rest the ghost of all his defeats last season.



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