The article I chose is called “Reinventing yourself” and it talks about research on memory. According to the author “who you are is limited only by your imagination”. What does it mean? That’s what I will try to explain on the following couple pages.
As I understood this article, it’s talking about how our imagination influences the memory. It starts with the examples from people’s lives. Bill Clinton told American people that he never served for Vietnam, and the reasons he gave appeared to be totally different from the reasons that came up after a research. Or, Gary Trudeau, cartoonist, that was telling people the same story for about 20 years about the way he avoided army, saying that he was a student and “his three-year student deferment had run out, which meant his call-up was imminent”. In fact, what appeared after a research, his dad was a doctor, and he didn’t serve in Vietnam because of his health condition. This is a good example of how our present life develops our imagination that adds to the memory and makes it different from a reality. But this is the way our imagination reflects and connects our past, present and future.
And sometimes we start to think about what do we need a memory for. And the answer is “to learn from our experiences without having to repeat them endlessly”. That’s why very few moments in our life can repeat exactly. And when we share the personal histories, it helps to keep the relationships going, but, as a matter of fact, what really happened is not that dramatic and critical as the way we talk about it afterwards.
Let’s imagine talking about memories from childhood, and suddenly somebody interrupts us and says that it couldn’t happened and you are wrong. What are you going to do? How are you going to prove it? And what the statistics show now is that many people instead of trying to find a proof such as pictures, tapes, videos will prefer just to imagine what could happen and how would it feel if this could happen now. Psychologist Helen Hembrook discovered this. In 1996 psychologists made a research by giving the example of the same events to the same people twice that could happen to them in their childhood, and it appeared that many of them gave different answers twice and, besides this, some of them just imagined that it could happened to them and this made them to really believe that it happened. That’s what the psychologists call “imagination inflation”. Also, sometimes, we can remember the source of the information better than the information by itself, and opposite, the information without a source, that is called “source monitoring” according to Marcia Johnson. And, of course, we remember recent experiments more accurately and more likely to interpret them correctly than childhood ones that we normally confuse. Certainly, we can’t confuse everything, and there are some things that we cant’ make ourselves to believe in, such as “I won a lottery”, when you never did win one.
So, basically, the whole article comes to the main point that “we rely on memories of the past to help us imagine and make sense of the present”. We develop some experiences that are common and don’t change, like for example, going to the restaurant, waiting for waiter to bring a bill, etc. “Sometimes people use their imagination to make sense of someone else’s past.” To prove this, author gives an example Hillary Rodham Clinton that was trying to explain her husband’s unfaithfulness as a result of being in the middle of conflict between two women that surrounded the boy in his childhood. And this is something that she has been told by couple psychologist and certainly can be right. The thing is that we often forget bad memories but scientific study doesn’t support this point of view and says that such bad memories as childhood sexual abuse and so on just seem to be forgotten, but they are not, and sooner or later the present will reflect this past.