Human Memory Literature Review Chapter

Pages: 25 (7275 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Literature


Another intriguing aspect of Conway & Pleydell-Pearce's research about human memory and autobiographical memories is not just that autobiographical memories exist, but how they believe them to function. They contend that autobiographical memories are constantly present, yet are "activated" by events or occurrences in our present lives that trigger these memories, as well as their influence.

A fundamental premise of our approach is that autobiographical memories are transitory dynamic mental constructions generated from an underlying knowledge base. This knowledge base, or regions of it, is minutely sensitive to cues, and patterns of activation constantly arise and dissipate over the indexes of autobiographical memory knowledge structures. Such endogenous patterns of activation may not coalesce into "memories," nor do they necessarily or even usually enter into consciousness; instead this most often occurs when the system is in "retrieval mode"… (Conway & Pleydell-Pearce, 2000, 261)

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There is also a great deal of psychological interpretation involved in understanding the meaning of an activation, in so far as specifying what mental process is signified by an activation. Modern imaging studies report activations arising from the difference between two tasks. Such differences are not only open to a variety of interpretations but also are often confounded with factors that influence outcomes. Autobiographical memories, as they imagine them, are transient; they are not permanent or fixed. We are not constantly aware of them as such. It is in moments that trigger or activate them that we become aware of them (or re-aware of them), and in the moment of activation, comes their potential to influence the present self. Autobiographical memories can lay dormant or latent in the unconscious and subconscious, coming to the surface or conscious mind when we receive a cue or trigger in the present that connects directly to a relevant autobiographical memory. Cues, triggers, and prompts seem to be key to their understanding and concepts of human memory, specifically autobiographical memories.

TOPIC: Literature Review Chapter on Human Memory Assignment

Overall, the authors are saying that memory is some kind of reservoir with depth and contents unknown to the individual, even though the reservoir is of his/her own memories. The authors are also concluding that memory is not something that is always on or always immediately accessible. Human memory is triggered, activated, and retrieved by incidents that occur in the present; therefore the implication is that access to memory is time-based, like a time-based release capsule in the form of medicine. We do not get access to the relevant memories until something in the present cues the necessity for access to that knowledge from the memory. Autobiographical memories are a form of knowledge, self knowledge, which is some of the most valuable and influential knowledge a person can have and apply, thus demonstrating the significance of their research of human memory.

Body and energy psychotherapy is perceived by the mainstream psychological body as an example of "alternative" treatment, when considered within the context of the psychoanalysis or psychotherapy. This line of thinking emerged from Wilhelm Reich, who was a follower of Sigmund Freud, who essentially defined modern psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in the west. Reich proposed theories based on the inspiration from Freud. His theories regarding body memory, energy therapy, and other related ideas resulted in his rejection from the mainstream academic community.

Freud investigated forms of physical hysteria, such as hysterial blindness and hysterical deafness. Without knowing so himself, he was, in some ways, one of the earliest body psychotherapists. He understood or acknowledged the connection between mind and body. In his work The Ego and the Id, he writes how the ego is, above all else, a "body-ego," and that a person's first sense of self is that as an embodied self. (1923) Some theorists argue that this aspect of his work has been obscured since Freud shows a preference for psychoanalysis and psychotherapy as "the talking cure." (1923)

More recently, there has been greater communication among psychological organizations around the world, particularly those whose research focus is on the more fringe areas of thought and research, such as body therapy. The growth of the psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic communities around the world have resulted in shifts in thinking, including the serious consideration of ideas once previously considered ridiculous. There is increased recognition, training, and experience in this area, receiving more attention in research, and the application of academic or scientific vigor seen in professional research journals.

Body Psychotherapy is now a distinct branch of psychotherapy. It has a history and body of literature that is based upon a sound theoretical position, respected by professionals and researchers in the field of psychological, globally. Body Psychotherapy relies upon an explicity theory that the connection between the mind and the body has a unique function, and that function takes very much into consideration the variations and complexities in that connection. A concept central to the understanding of Body Psychotherapy is that the human body includes the whole person -- that there is a functional unity between the human mind and the human body.

So much of cultural ideology, language, particularly in western cultures, bombards people with the message that the mind and the body are separate. That though the body has abilities different from the mind, but that those abilities are impossible without the mind, that the mind is both superior and separate from the body. We know, literally, that despite all the sources around us that want to tell us that the mind is separate from the body, it is housed within the body. Our very physiology and anatomy goes against what "society tell us" about the separation of body and mind. Body Psychotherapy is a field that reminds of what we should already know, which is that the body and mind are connected in many ways; that their connection has a purpose. We should heal one, the other, and both.

The average person, who is not a psychological professional, but yet has heard of psychotherapy, has a fairly accurate idea of what most psychotherapy sessions are like. The average conception of a psychotherapy session is of an individual, couple, group, or family, arriving at an office, where the therapy will be conducted. The patient(s) enter the office, in the company of the psychotherapist, where they will have the session -- which primarily consists of talking. Most people think that psychotherapy session is the Freudian stereotype, consist of talking, conversations, etc. This average conception of a psychotherapy session, again, is accurate. This is the normative structure of sessions.

Sometimes the therapist may speak more than the patient, or vice versa, certainly the therapist will ask questions of the patient to get that person to speak further upon a subject, experience, or memory, but that is, essentially, it. This is and has been the norm for psychotherapy sessions for much of the 20th century, and is still widely practice in the 21st century. This does not mean that there is no deviation from this norm, nor does it mean that there is potential for get a patient to delve deeper into a subject, experience, or memory through speech only. Developments in psychotherapy in the 21st century have expanded to include different approaches to psychotherapy sessions and to exploring the human memory.

Belgian psychotherapist and researcher Leijssen (2006) is one such researcher who studies and advocates for the use of the body in psychotherapy sessions, specifically in use as it relates to all of human memory, and to the act of remembering. Her research about the body as a source of human memory calls for "body interventions" as part of "body therapy." (2006) This practice she has developed is based in an amalgamation of several psychodynamic theories including: Reichian theories, neo-Reichian theories, humanistic psychology, existential psychology, transpersonal psychology, and behavior therapy. (Leijssen, 2006) She integrates these models into a firm foundation upon which she proposes her work in body therapy and body memory.

Leijssen's drive to come up with and apply body therapies came from the urge to validate the entire the body as valuable the remembering and healing processes, not just to limit the focus of psychotherapeutic treatments to the brain. This acknowledgement of the body as a valid source of memory and a valuable site in the psychotherapeutic process. She explains the academic and professional confrontation with her ideas regarding the body as a site for memory and therapy:

There is often confusion when the body is talked about in psychotherapy because there are many ways of validating the body as a valuable part of the psychotherapeutic process. Different approaches can be situated along a continuum from verbal to nonverbal. Verbal psychotherapies that pay no attention to the body are situated on the far left of the continuum. The spoken word dominates the therapeutic interaction and in the verbal interventions there is no reference to body aspects…Therapist and client are never just 'talking', they are always 'bodies interacting'…Body-oriented interventions in this stage validate the body language and the nonverbal communication. In these approaches the body-oriented interventions in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Human Memory" Literature Review Chapter in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Human Memory.  (2014, February 28).  Retrieved January 18, 2022, from

MLA Format

"Human Memory."  28 February 2014.  Web.  18 January 2022. <>.

Chicago Style

"Human Memory."  February 28, 2014.  Accessed January 18, 2022.