Implicit Memory and Metacognition

By Lynne M. Reder | Go to book overview

Chapters 8
Manufacturing False Memories Using Bits of Reality

Elizabeth F. Loftus
James A. Coan
Jacqueline E. Pickrell
University of Washington

The controversy over the recovery of repressed memories provides a contemporary place where the concepts of metacognition and implicit memory both come into play. The idea that adult problems stem from the harboring of deeply repressed memories gained widespread attention when it became the cornerstone of Freud's ( 1916-1917) theory of mental functioning. Freud used a rather charming spatial metaphor to convey his view of repression and of the relationship between the unconscious, which he compared to a large hall, and consciousness, which was more like a smaller reception room:

On the threshold between the two there stands a . . . door-keeper, who examines the various mental excitations, censors them, and denies them admittance to the reception room when he disapproves of them. . . . When (the mental excitations) have pressed forward to the threshold and been turned back by the door-keeper . . . we call them then repressed. . . . The door-keeper is what we have learnt to know as resistance in our attempts in analytic treatment to loosen the repressions. (pp. 306-307)

Freud was clear in his views of the goals of psychoanalysis; namely, to undo repression and get the patient to remember the forgotten traumatic events of childhood. Freud appeared to accept without questioning the therapeutic benefits of digging for hidden treasures in the depths of his patient's mind ( Arlow, 1995).

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