The Musings of an Elective Orphan

Sarah Brandis

The Power of Memories

13984-bYesterday, my Cognitive Neuroscience lecturer referenced Martin Conway after a lecture on memory.
This was her last slide:

MEMORIES are curious things. Sometimes they masquerade as thoughts, feelings, or images, without revealing themselves as memories. Sometimes they come to mind and seem relatively meaningless, other times they overwhelm consciousness and cast us back into a vividly remembered past. They emerge into consciousness from somewhere else and give us pause for thought. Why? When a hysterical patient finally connects their intrusively persistent awareness of a disturbing smell to a memory of the smell of a particular person’s cigar, why is it significant?It is significant because memories are an intrinsic part of us – they are the database or the content of the self. They ground it in a remembered reality that constrains what the self can be now and in the future, and what it could possibly have been in the past. Because of this, memories are not some sort of mental wallpaper that merely provide a backdrop for the self. They are alive, free, sometimes alien, occasionally dangerous mental representations, that can overwhelm as easily as they fulfill.  – Martin Conway, 2006



Brilliant movie - terrible idea in the real world!  We are our memories, the good and the bad.

Brilliant movie – terrible idea in the real world! We are our memories, the good and the bad.

I love this.  Particularly the idea that memories constrain what we have been, and what we can be.  I think it says a lot for the usefulness of talking therapy.  We cannot erase our memories, but we can learn to remember them in a better context, perhaps taking some of their emotional power away.  Therefore, empowering ourselves and lifting the constraints on what we can become.  

Just a little thought for the day. 


2 comments on “The Power of Memories

  1. diahannreyes
    November 7, 2013

    Love this–change our stories around what we remember to be true and this can give our herstory new meaning. 🙂

    • sarahbgoode
      November 7, 2013

      Totally 🙂
      The whole area of memory is fascinating. It’s such a huge part of our sense of ‘self’.

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