Looking the past in the eye: distortion in memory and the costs and benefits of recalling from an observer perspective

Christopher Jude McCarroll*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Jordi Fernández (2015) discusses the possible benefits of two types of allegedly distorted memories: observer memories and fabricated memories. Fernández argues that even when memory does not preserve the past, some memories can still provide an adaptive benefit for the subject. I explore Fernández's claims focussing on the case of observer perspective memories. For Fernández, observer perspectives are distorted memories because they do not preserve past experience. In contrast, I suggest that observer perspectives can accurately reflect past experience: observer perspectives are not necessarily distorted memories. By looking at the complexity of the relation between remembering trauma from an observer perspective and emotional closure, I also sound a note of caution against Fernández's assertion that observer memories of trauma can be adaptively beneficial. Finally, I suggest that because observer perspectives are not necessarily distorted, but involve a distinct way of thinking about one's past, such memories can be epistemically beneficial.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)322-332
    Number of pages11
    JournalConsciousness and cognition
    Volume49
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

    Keywords

    • autobiographical memory
    • distorted memory
    • memory reconstruction
    • observer perspective memory

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