“…ironic processes are part of the machinery of mental control. It may be that in any attempt to control our minds, two processes are instituted–an operating process that works quite consciously and effortfully to carry out our desire, and an ironic process that works unconsciously and less effortfully to check on whether the operating process is failing and needs renewal.
In the case of thought suppression, for instance, the operating process involves the conscious and labored search for distracters-as we try to fasten our minds on anything other than the unwanted thought-whereas the ironic process is an automatic search for the unwanted thought itself. The ironic process is a monitor of sorts, a checker that determines whether the operating process is needed, but that also has a tendency to influence the accessibility of conscious mental contents. It ironically enhances the sensitivity of the mind to the very thought that is being suppressed.”
Daniel M. Wegner, The Seed of Our Undoing.