Sep 17, 2010

The Fragility of Identity Without Memory

Our Memories Make us Who We are, but Who are Our Memories?

Our memories make us who we are, they definitely make me who I am; especially with my detailed and never forgetting memories, but the question is: who are our/my memories? If my self perception and self image of myself is based on my memories then I don't know myself too well if those memories are rather flawed. Are my memories flawed? I tend to remember everything, every little detail, every spoken word, smell, temperature, taste but my memory fails me always in reminding me how I exactly felt when that memory was formed/shaped. I know exactly how I feel about it now but never how I exactly felt then. I know exactly how I feel about my expensive car now but I don't remember how I felt when I bought the car, how I exactly felt, not just the feelings of excitement and joy.

I guess this is normal since memories always evolve in the brain based on how many times they are revisited and how big of an effect they had. Anxieties can evolve to funny, jokes to regret, happiness to sadness...This is not good as far as we are concerned. How are we to make better decisions when facing similar situation when our memories lose all the feelings when they are recorded in our brains. I have had years of memories that feel like days and weeks that feel like years. What bothers me the most is that when I think about some of the wrong/bad decisions I've made, I can never go back and feel what I was feeling or think what I was thinking when I made those decisions. How am I to trust my judgments if I can't understand/remember how I felt when making those decisions. The brain is very selective when recording memories based on the nature of the event and the feeling involved but this means many details are left out that we never think about or consider when facing the same situation.

How am I to know who I really am if my only data on knowing myself are my flawed memories of my actions but never a complete picture of my feelings when I engaged in those actions?

1 comment:

  1. I have the opposite experience. I always remember how I felt, accurately or not, during past events but I can never remember the specifics or the details of that event. Just feelings. I haven't thought it through yet, and I'm sure I'll ponder it more if I remember to, but it seems to me that the constant recollection of feelings boxes me in makes it hard for me to change my feelings about specific things. You are either free from your past with no identity or your are tied to your identity with no freedom. Which do you prefer?