The discipline of psychology, memory is defined as a process through which information is received, stored and decoded. Memory is important and there are various types of memory, classified according to different criteria such as the type of information received and stored. People forget some things from time to time, but serious forgetting is seen as impairment (Higbee, 2001). It is alleged that people tend to forget some things as they grow old. This paper outlines a critique to ‘demystifying memory.’
Memory is significant in every person’s mental and physical life. It enables people to carry out their day to day activities, some of which may be dependent on past events Memory is divided into three categories based on the type of storage of the information; short-term, sensory and long-term memory. Research approaches provide two categories of memory; traditional and everyday memory. On the other hand, memory can be classified as episodic as well as autobiographical (Gilboa, 2004). In my opinion, there can be many ways of classifying memory, but the underlying issue is that memory is important to all individuals.
There are several assumptions made about memory. For instance, many people assume that memory is always accurate due to lack of instruments for measuring the accuracy or inaccuracy of memory. However, flashbulb memories indicate otherwise. These are memories emanating from emotional and crucial events (Brown & Kulik, 1977). They indicate that memories are accurate and they make an individual to remember events as they occurred without any distortions. It is imperative to note that there are no specific methods agreed upon for testing accuracy of memories, thus researchers continue investigating the issues of memory up to date.
Kvavilashvili, et al. (2009) concluded that flashbulb memories are not actually accurate. This was after a comprehensive study of the attack of USA by terrorists in the year 2001. The study emerged with findings that memories of those who witnessed the attack had some distortions in their memories. The issue of eye witness is accorded a lot of importance when dealing with memory issues. Eye witnesses to an event or crime are an important resource to law maintenance officers and the judicial institutions of a country. They give the accounts of events based on observation. However, it is worth noting that people observing an event record different findings based on their presumptions and past experiences. In such scenarios, they may give the wrong testimony in courts leading to imprisonment of innocent people.
False memory syndrome is another issue that comes up whenever people talk of memory. This is a distortion of memory regarding instances that happened in the past, especially when one was young. It is often argued by researchers that children rarely forget issues of molestation and sexual abuse. However, Goodman et al (2002) assert that children may not remember everything that happened in the past vividly. Thus it is very important for any organization investigating crime against children, to be very cautious. This is because children’s memory can be altered by fear, advice from parents and relatives, as well as threat of the person who committed the crime. Therefore, relying on children’s memory only when investigating a crime may not be very reliable.
In summary, memory forms part of our lives. It is shows how our past affects or determines our future, as well how our present thoughts are influenced by past occurrences. Thus, the importance of memory in every day’s lives should not be undermined.
Brown, R., & Kulik, J. (1977). Flashbulb Memories. Cognition. 5:73-89.
Gilboa, A. (2004). Autobiographical and episodic memory- one and the same? Evidence from prefrontal activation in neuroimaging studies. Neuropsychologia. 42: 1336-1349.
Goodman, G. S., Batterman-Faunce, J. M., Schaaf, J. M., & Kenney, R. (2002). Nearly 4 years after an event: Children’s eyewitness memory and adult’s perception of children’s accuracy. Child Abuse & Neglect. 26: 849-884.
Higbee, K. (2001). Your Memory: How it works and how to improve it. (2nd ed.). New York: Marlowe & Company.
Kvavilashvili, L., Mirani, J., Schlagman, S., Foley, K., & Kornbrot, D. (2009) Consistency of flashbulb memory of September 11 over long delays: Implications for consolidation and wrong time slice hypothesis. Journal of Memory and Language. 61: 556-572.