Your Memory Isn’t What You Think It Is

Your Memory Isn’t What You Think It Is, by Arthur Dobrin in 2013.

Daniela Schiller, of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and her former colleagues from New York University give us a new insight into the nature of memory.

Not only are our memories faulty (anyone who has uncovered old diaries knows that), but more importantly Schiller says our memories change each time they are recalled. What we recall is only a facsimile of things gone by.

Schiller says that memories are malleable constructs that are reconstructed with each recall. We all recognize that our memories are like Swiss cheese; what we now know is that they are more like processed cheese. …

One implication of Schiller’s work is that memory isn’t like a file in our brain but more like a story that is edited every time we tell it. To each re-telling there are attached emotional details. So when the story is altered feelings are also reshaped.

Schiller says, “My conclusion is that memory is what you are now. Not in pictures, not in recordings. Your memory is who you are now.” So if we tell our stories differently, the emotions that are elicited will also differ. An altered story is also an altered interior life.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific