ForgettingMyths, Perils and Compensations

ForgettingMyths, Perils and Compensations

Douwe Draaisma

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780300207286

Publisher: Yale University Press

Abstract

In his highly praised book The Nostalgia Factory, the author explored the puzzling logic of memory in later life with humor and deep insight. In this compelling new book the author turns to the “miracle” of forgetting. Far from being a defect that may indicate Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, the book claims, forgetting is one of memory's crucial capacities. In fact, forgetting is essential. Weaving together an engaging array of literary, historical, and scientific sources, the author considers forgetting from every angle. He pierces false clichés and asks important questions: Is a forgotten memory lost forever? What makes a colleague remember an idea but forget that it was yours? The author explores “first memories” of young children, how experiences are translated into memory, the controversies over repression and “recovered” memories, and weird examples of memory dysfunction. The book movingly examines the impact on personal memories when a hidden truth comes to light. In a persuasive conclusion the author advocates the undervalued practice of “the art of forgetting”—a set of techniques that assist in erasing memories, thereby preserving valuable relationships and encouraging personal contentment.