July 15, 2012
Mind bending: Why our memories are not always our own
From The Independent:
When brothers and sisters are young, observed the psychologist Dorothy Rowe, they fight with each other for their parents' attention. When they are older, "siblings battle over who has the most truthful, accurate memory of their shared past". Adult siblings generally do not face the same pressures as, say, married couples to agree on a story about their pasts. Individuals who have spent a lifetime trying to define themselves in opposition to each other are unlikely to be quite as motivated to settle their memory differences. And the fact is that adult siblings usually do not get as many opportunities as couples do to negotiate their memory disputes.
Why are some memories easier to negotiate than others? An obvious answer is that the people concerned are more committed to some of their memories than to others, and so are less willing to let go. But the study of sibling memories also convincingly demonstrates how two forces go head to head in memory. There is the drive to represent events accurately, which means being true to the often vivid impressions we have about what actually happened. And there is the drive for coherence, the need to produce a narrative whose elements fit together. In this case, coherence is a matter of agreement between people. Our stories need to make sense to us individually, but they also need to make sense to those who matter to us.
Posted by Azra Raza at 07:16 AM | Permalink