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Memory and its Traditional Debate

Discuss about the Concept Of Memory And The Role.

“The biggest wall you have to climb is the one you build in your mind: Never let your mind talk you out of your dreams, trick you into giving up. Never let your mind become the greatest obstacle to success. To get your mind on the right track, the rest will follow”

The author “Roy Bennett” in the above quoted lines gives an overview of the concept of memory and the role which it is likely to play in the lives of the various individuals. The concept of memory can be defined as the capability or the ability of the individuals by means of which the individuals concerned are able to retain various kinds of information as well as knowledge which is likely to help them not only in the present times but also in the future times as well (Forrest, François & Hagemann, 2013). However, in the opinion of many people the concept of memory can also be seen as the collection of all the past experiences as well as reminiscences of the individuals which not only help them to perform the various necessary activities which form an essential part of their daily lives but also forms an integral part of their identity (Patihis et al., 2014). However, many psychologists are of the opinion that memories can be implanted within the mind of the individuals. Therefore in the present times a debate has ensued, also called by the name of “memory wars” as per which false memories can be implanted in the minds of the individuals. Thus, many people are of the opinion that not all the memories which the various individuals have are true (Forrest, François & Hagemann, 2013). This essay will discuss about the fact that not all the memories which the various individuals are true and that false memories can be implanted in the individuals.


Memory has been an area of much critical debate since the traditional times and it is a reflection of this particular fact that this particular theme has an area of much critical debate (Patihis et al., 2014). It is a reflection of this particular fact even in the ancient times the various philosophers like Socrates, Confucius and others tried to explore this particular process of the human brain (Patihis et al., 2014). It is significant to note that even in the 19th as well as the 20th century various psychologists as well as theorists tried to explore this particular concept (Patihis et al., 2014). The chief among them were Freud, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan and others and it is a reflection of the works of these psychologists that in the 21st century the human beings have a clear understanding of the concept of memory and the true nature of it (Patihis et al., 2014). However, the real change in the debate came with the emergence of the various “Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)” cases which to the front in the later part of the 20th century and further added fuel to the debate which has been raging since the traditional times (Kaplan et al., 2016). In the opinion of many scholars the issues brought to the forefront by these cases were one of the chief reasons for the critical debate about the validity of the memory and its related processes in the later part of the 20th century (Newman et al., 2015).

The Memory Wars and False Memories

In the opinion of the authors Rutten, Fedor and Zvereva (2013), “the memory wars of the 1990s refer to the controversy between some clinicians and memory scientists about the reliability of repressed memories”. These authors completely based there researches as well as findings on the various “Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)” which came to the forefront in the later part of the 20th century (Rutten, Fedor & Zvereva, 2013). The critical debate about the validity of the memory wars or the about the validity of the memories gained further prominence with the  comment of Loftus when he said that during the course of diagnosis the therapists found that many of the memories which the various therapists found in the patients related to the abuse or trauma were more likely to be false than true and it is a reflection of this many psychologists in the later part of the century began to undertake several researches in a bid to prove the falseness of the trauma memories (Bernstein & Loftus, 2009). Furthermore, many psychologists are of the opinion that the various false memories which the people in the present times have are the result of the unethical psychologists who in a bid to make more money out of the patients take the help of the unethical means of infusing false memories into their heads (Forrest, François & Hagemann, 2013).    


The debate about the validity of the various traumatic as well as the abusive memories which the various individuals have gained a considerable amount of significance with the allegations of “Professor Jennifer Freyd”(Kaplan et al., 2016). She alleged that her own father had sexually abused her as a child and that she had recovered that particular memory after years of insomnia about the memory (Kaplan et al., 2016). It is significant to note this particular allegation played a significant role in this particular debate as it led to the foundation of the famous organisation which was called by the name of “False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF)” (Newman et al., 2015). The “False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF)” was founded in the United States of America (Newman et al., 2015). This particular foundation championed the cause of the people against whom allegations were made for various kinds of crimes on the basis of the recovered memories which the victims had recovered by miraculous means after years of insomnia about the incident (Newman et al., 2015). It is a reflection of the success which this particular organisation gained within a very short time that in the year 1994 the “British False Memory Society” was established in the nation of the United Kingdom (Newman et al., 2015). The work of these two institutions has contributed in a significant manner towards the critical debate which is under discussion here (Newman et al., 2015). The psychologists Bernstein and Loftus both related to these two institutions played a significant role in this particular debate and they are of the opinion that “prior to 1991 the vast majority (80%) of the literature on child sexual abuse pertained to the victims and their needs, whereas just three years later the predominant focus of the literature (80%) was on the problem of false memories of CSA and the potential for the wrongful conviction of innocent people erroneously accused of CSA” (Bernstein & Loftus, 2009). In the opinion of other scholars the works of psychologists like Beckett also played a significant role to show the falseness or the lack of the validity of the various trauma as well as abuse memories which the patients claimed to have recovered after years of amnesia about the same incident (Rutten, Fedor & Zvereva, 2013). Moreover, the psychologist as well as the theorist Dallam made a very pertinent observation with the comment that “a memory which has been recovered by individuals with the aid of the various psychologists is more likely to be a false one than a genuine one” (Rutten, Fedor & Zvereva, 2013). Therefore, it would be apt to say that the works of the various psychologists like Beckett, Loftus, Dallam and others played a significant role in showing the false nature of the various abuses as well as the traumatic memories which the various people claimed to have recovered after years of amnesia (Rutten, Fedor & Zvereva, 2013).

The Role of Psychologists in Debating the Validity of Recovered Memories


The critical debate about the falseness of the various kinds of recovered memories gained further significance with the “Lost in the Shopping Mall” experiment the various psychologists received further more proof that the various kinds of recovered memories which the people had recovered after years of amnesia were merely a part of their imagination or an implant of the various kinds of unethical psychologists (Warren et al., 2014). This particular experiment clearly showed although the majority of the participants in the experiment had never been lost in a shopping in their childhood and therefore had never to face that particular trauma yet many of them reported that they had (Warren et al., 2014). It is significant to note that after the success of this particular to show that the various kinds of memories which the individuals have recovered were mostly false memories several other experiments were conducted by the other psychologists which also showed the falseness of the various recovered memories (Forrest, François & Hagemann, 2013). It is a reflection of results of this particular experiment and various other subsequent experiments the various courts of law which earlier used to accept the recovered memories of the individuals as totally genuine ones now take the help of the various kinds of tests like “Rorschach projective imagery test”, “Statement Validity Analysis” and others to test the validity of the recovered memories of the individuals (Forrest, François & Hagemann, 2013).

The critical debate about the falseness of the memories gained further significance with the emergence of various theories like “Fuzzy tracing theory” and others (Pipe et al., 2013). According to this particular theory, the memories which an individual has are related to the overview of the entire incident or just the gist of the entire thing and not the actual details of the things which actually happened at that particular point of time (Pipe et al., 2013). Therefore, many people are of the opinion that the various individuals keep on adding their personal views as well as imagination to the thing which have actually happened (Forrest, François & Hagemann, 2013). Furthermore, many people are also of the opinion that the individuals in the subconscious part of their brain always relive the incidents which had actually happened in their past and it is a result of this particular fact that the memories which the various individuals have are not absolutely accurate (Rutten, Fedor & Zvereva, 2013). This particular fact becomes furthermore apparent when various different individuals are asked to give the accounted of the same incident which had happened in their lives and it is interesting to note that most of these individuals give the same overview of the incident however the minor details of the incident are modified by them (Rutten, Fedor & Zvereva, 2013). Thus, it can be said that not only the trauma as well as the abusive memories which the various people claim to have recovered after a period of amnesia but also the normal ones which they have stored in their brain are not hundred percent accurate (Rutten, Fedor & Zvereva, 2013).

The Lost in the Shopping Mall Experiment


To conclude, the concept of memory has formed an important area of curiosity for the human beings for a very long time and it is a reflection of this particular fact that a large number of researches have been conducted in this particular field. The critical debate which ensued in the later part of the 20th century has contributed in a significant manner to show that not all the memories which the various individuals possess are absolutely correct and the various traumatic as well as the abusive memories related to the CAB which the various individuals claim to have recovered after prolonged periods of amnesia about the same incidents are pertinent examples of this particular fact. Furthermore, the recent researches conducted by the various theorists as well as researchers also show not only the memories related to trauma and abuse or recovered but other kinds of memories which an individual possesses are not hundred percent accurate. Therefore, it can be said that the human beings cannot always trust their memories as the recent researches have shown they are not always accurate. There are various factors which affect the memory of the various individuals and it is generally seen that even the natural memories which the various individuals have are been subjected to different kinds of imaginative exercises and thus they are not absolutely accurate. However, it has been established that the various recovered memories cannot be trusted.

References

Bernstein, D. M., & Loftus, E. F. (2009). How to tell if a particular memory is true or false. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(4), 370–374.

Bookbinder, S. H., & Brainerd, C. J. (2016). Emotion and false memory: The context–content paradox. Psychological bulletin, 142(12), 1315.

Brainerd, C. J., & Reyna, V. F. (2018). Complementarity in false memory illusions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(3), 305.

Crews, F.C. ed., (1995). The memory wars: Freud's legacy in dispute. New York Review of Books.

Davies, G., & Granhag, P. A. (2017). Introduction to target article and commentaries: A systematic review of the experimental literature on the creation of false memories of childhood events by adults. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31(1), 1-1.

Forrest, A.I., François, É. & Hagemann, K. eds., (2013). War memories: the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars in modern European culture. Palgrave Macmillan.

Kaplan, R. L., Van Damme, I., Levine, L. J., & Loftus, E. F. (2016). Emotion and false memory. Emotion Review, 8(1), 8-13.

Mink, G. & Neumayer, L. eds., (2013). History, memory and politics in Central and Eastern Europe: Memory games. Springer.

Newman, A. M., Lustig, V., MacRae, A. R., Palomaki, G. E., Ko, D. T., Tu, J. V., & Jaffe, A. S. (2015). Clin Chem: False memory. Journal of Continuing Education Topics & Issues, 17(1), 26-27.

Patihis, L., Ho, L.Y., Tingen, I.W., Lilienfeld, S.O. & Loftus, E.F., (2014). Are the “memory wars” over? A scientist-practitioner gap in beliefs about repressed memory. Psychological Science, 25(2), pp.519-530.

Pipe, M.E., Lamb, M.E., Orbach, Y. & Cederborg, A.C., (2013). Seeking resolution in the disclosure wars: An overview. In Child sexual abuse (pp. 13-20). Psychology Press.

Read, J.D. & Lindsay, D.S. eds., 2013. Recollections of trauma: Scientific evidence and clinical practice (Vol. 291). Springer Science & Business Media.

Rutten, E., Fedor ,I. & J. Zvereva, V. eds., (2013). Memory, conflict and new media: web wars in post-socialist states. Routledge.

Warren, D. E., Jones, S. H., Duff, M. C., & Tranel, D. (2014). False recall is reduced by damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex: implications for understanding the neural correlates of schematic memory. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(22), 7677-7682.

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