The Memory Essay
I have always thought that memories are accurate recordings of things that we experience every day until I read this chapter of the textbook - The Memory Essay introduction. I was surprised to learn that memories are merely representations of things that we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell in our day to day living. What we refer to as pictures of our experiences are actually the mind’s interpretation of these experiences that the mind managed to put up based on what has been stored in our memory. It is because of this that we end up having perceptions , rather than accurate pictures of our day to day encounters with the world. It is because of this that sometimes our mind tends to play tricks on us like what happened to Donna who thought that her father sexually abused her. The chapter of the book also talked about implicit memories which are actually memories we didn’t know we had. I find it hard to believe that we would be able to store memories of certain experiences unconsciously. Maybe it could be possible under controlled conditions but not under normal conditions wherein you will not be able to unconsciously store an image of a person jogging by. To prove that memories can be fabricated, Elizabeth Loftus and her colleagues conducted an experiment wherein they asked the parents of each respondent for some memories which the respondents were asked to recall.
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The memories however were embedded with things that never really happened. This kind of experiment is plausible if recent memories are involved. With memories which are about ten years old, it is but natural for the subject to sort of guess and take the suggested event as something to be true especially if the subject is being pressed to recall a memory of an event which happened a long time ago. The findings from this experiment can be applied in cases wherein a subject has difficulty recalling an event just to help him or her along. But what the subject says should not be taken at face value. The person or persons performing the inquiry should still check the veracity of the statement given by the interviewee.
Ebbinghaus, Hermann. Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology. Dover Publications. New York.1964