Why are memories important

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Status: November 30, 2016

Humans keep in touch with the past through their autobiographical-episodic memory. Certain episodes, beautiful or sad events are saved permanently, others are forgotten. The memory system can differentiate tenses and is very powerful - the range of memories ranges from encounters with people and animals to telephone numbers or mobile phone passwords. Memory also provides information about feelings in certain situations. It is indispensable for the formation of one's own identity, because without memory a person's personality would crumble.

Look through the glasses of memory

Out of the mass of memories that memory has in store, very special islands of memory protrude. Important life issues are located here as well as unresolved conflicts and critical episodes of our existence. Those who approach these islands on an excursion into the past can experience joy and satisfaction, but also fear and sadness.

We have unconsciously defined these memories; they often revolve around central needs or goals that we have set for ourselves. They influence our self-image and help write the "script for our life". It becomes dangerous when memories obstruct the view of current events and produce endless loops (example: "I've always come up short, so it will be this time too ...").

On the trail of memories

Sigmund Freud describes the frequent access to negative memories as "repetition compulsion". People who suffer from depression, relationship problems or inferiority complexes, for example, like to hold onto old experiences and repeatedly fall back into familiar interaction patterns. Healthy people, on the other hand, integrate new experiences into their self-image.

When dealing with key memories, therapeutic help can be useful. With expert support, it is easier to bring memories up to and including early childhood experiences and to question them. If deformations are recognized, new ways of reacting can be developed. And when in the end there are no more "stagnant waters", says the depth psychologist C. G. Jung, if you go back to the past and turn to the new, the biography work is a success.