Selective Memory

- A – B [SM] – Ce – Cb ->

The difficulty with memory is that it is highly selective and often grossly inaccurate. Memory is not like a storage box that holds snapshots of past events – recalling something is not the same as pulling out an album folder and searching through old photographs. When clients remember a past event they are recreating the past anew. It is their present impression of the past, not the actual past, that their memory search uncovers.

Clients’ memories consist of millions of events, impressions, feelings, and thoughts. Their memories exist like a giant tapestry so large that they can only see parts of it. The part they focus on is always a very small piece of cloth, and what they recall is often biased depending upon what they desire to remember and what they wish to feel at the moment…

Each time that clients remember, they change the past; they repaint what happened a long time ago with present brush strokes. The new picture is based on present feelings, thoughts, desires, and wishes. The actual past has long since ceased to exist for them; it disappeared in the distant past time and can no longer be accurately retrieved.

Some clients object to the idea that their picture of the past is based on present feelings, thoughts, desires, and wishes…

Rationally this is true; the past is unalterable, but the client’s memory of the past can be changed. The client’s view of the past is quite incomplete. Nobody can remember things exactly the way they were – human memory is too poor for that, and is selective as well. We remember what we choose to remember and forget what we choose to forget.

-McMullin (The New Handbook of Cognitive Therapy Techniques)



Obvious lesson I already knew, but did not follow: unmerited bitching out at someone out does not make one feel better, it makes one feel worse.

"Judging others will avail you nothing and injure you spiritually. Only if you can inspire others to judge themselves will anything worthwhile have been accomplished."
-Peace Pilgrim