April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting
Some of you know that I am a fan of TED talks. The success of our TED discussion group indicates that I am not alone. We have also brought TED to the Let’s Talk conversation groups and several of us enjoy them as a break in the evening. If you are not familiar with them, visit TED.com and search for a speaker or topic of interest. Each segment is 12-20 minutes long.
This week Susan Friedman forwarded a lecture by Daniel Kahneman on the riddle of experience vs memory. Dr. Kahneman is a psychologist who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. In this lecture he differentiates between the Experiencing Self which lives in the present moment, every moment, as we go through life. If asked by a doctor “how much does it hurt now?” the experiencing self can respond. But it is the Remembering Self that stops occasionally to evaluate the self or an episode. The remembering self may answer the question “did it hurt” in the same way whether the event was 10 minutes or 30 minutes long. The remembering self creates a story that is attached to that event.
Experiencing is continuous, but not retained. In fact, the remembering self doesn’t always know what the experiencing self went through. For example, if listening to a great piece of music that ends with an screech, the memory is often not of the great 20 minutes but of the last unpleasant moment. He also says that the future is anticipated memories.
It is memories (our stories) that shape our sense of self. Dr Kahneman concludes that there is a significant difference in describing happiness depending on whether you are measuring happiness in life (experience) or happiness with life (memory, satisfaction when you think about life).
Our culture places great importance on memories and the stories we tell. But was that what we truly experienced? It made me think about how often we are perplexed when we share our memory of an event, but others who were present say it didn’t happen that way at all. Each of us is shaping the event with our own story.
The lecture made me wonder how much influence we have over the story we create, whether it is simply associated with the last moments or whether we can purposefully make it a positively or negatively associated memory. Is this how optimists and pessimists are wired?
Many of us have had the experience of memories changing over time. The fish gets longer with each telling. Aspects we’ve heard from someone else can become a part of our narrative (think about suggestibility in witness testimony). Some events get merged together into a single story. I think this is one reason that people feel a growing urgency to record their memories. Another is the fear that their story will be lost forever.
Dr Kahneman points out that another place where this distinction is important is for people with dementia. They continue to have experiences, but cannot create new memories. We have the ability to create either good or bad experiences for them.
I hope this message has stimulated thoughts for you, perhaps encouraging you to explore TED talks, write down your memories, or create a positive experience for a friend with memory loss.
Susan W. Hoskins LCSW
No One Ages Well Alone
Help at Home
November 2016 Family Caregiving
October 2016 Annual Report
September 2016 Corporate Healthcare
Is Your Home Age- Friendly?
May 2016 Director's Message Part 2 - We Need Your Help
May 2016 - Part 1 - Going Solo
April 2016 - Volunteering
March 2016 - Partners In Caring
February 2016 - PSRC's Strategic Plan
January 2016 - Hope
December 2015 - Gratitude
November 2015 - Helicopter Children
October 2015 - Is Princeton An Age Friendly Community?
September 2015 - Annual Report
July & August 2015 - Family and Community
June 2015 - A Gift that Keeps Giving
May 2015 60 Is the New 60
April 2015 - Spring
March 2015 - Being Mortal
February 2015 - Mentoring
January 2015 - Winter Blues
December 2014 - Leaving A Legacy
October 2014 An Age Friendly Future
September 2014 Annual Report
July - August 2014
June 2014 - Romance After 50
May 2014 - Your Virtual Estate
April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting
March 2014 - Aging in Community
February 2014 - Family Caregiving
January 2014 - Attitudes about Aging
December 2013 - Giving
November 2013 - Healthcare Marketplace
October 2013 - Annual Report 2013
September 2013 - Total Brain Health® Fair
July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me
June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities
May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape
April 2013 - Becoming Visible
March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions
February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton
January 2013 - Men as Caregivers
December 2012 - The Safety Net
November 2012 - Going Solo
October 2012 - Documenting Your History
September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation
July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving
June 2012 - Diversity
May 2012- Aging in America
APRIL 2012 - TEN YEARS
March 2012 - Patient-centered Care
February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?
January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities
December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?
November - We need YOU!
October - Chocolate for Memory
September- Looking Back and Looking Forward
July - August 2011; Ageism
June 2011 - Accessibility
May 2011 - Paper retention
Knit Wits, April 2011
Lessons and Legacies, March 2011
Independent Living February 2011
Home Safety January 2011
Witness to my Life December 2010
Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010
Retire in 3D!
Am I Old?
Aging In America May 2010
Volunteering April 2010
Spirituality March 2010
Encore Careers January 2010
Hiring Home Care
Annual Giving by
Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009
Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind
A Personal Perspective on Caregiving
Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity
Write your own obituary
Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look!
Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008
Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning
Finding Rhythm and Purpose
Spring Cleaning II June 2008
V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008
Spring Cleaning April 2008
Have You Had the Talk Yet?
Get Moving with FitRhythms™!
My Condolences January 2008
What Are Social Services? November 2007
Plan for the Future September 2007
The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007
Volunteering June 2007
Strategic Plan May 2007
National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007
Brain Health March 2007
Resiliency February 2007
Transportation January 2007
Season of Giving December 2006
Medicare Part D November 2006
April Hill McElroy October 2006
Civic Engagement September 2006
Change June 2006
White House Conference on Aging May 2006
Hearing Loss April 2006
GrandPals March 2006
Lets Talk February 2006
Eldertopia January 2006
Hoarding December 2005
Annual Report: November 2005
Are You Prepared? October 2005
Planning Ahead October 2005
Watch Your Language September 2005
Medicare Part D Summer 2005
Sue Tillett June 2005
The End of the Journey May 2005
Clutter March 2005
New Dietary Guidelines February 2005
Transitions January 2005
Funding December 2004
Caregiving November 2004
Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004
A New Look September 2004
Safe Driving Summer 2004
Food Safety June 2004
Communication June 2004
The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004
Seniors On The Move April 2004
Depression March 2004
McGreevey February 2004
Medications January 2004
Random Acts of Kindness December 2003
Civic Engagement November 2003
Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003
Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003