This is the first in a series of articles by Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D.. This single article is quite lengthy, so I am breaking it down into multiple parts. The link to the next segment is included at the close of this segment.
As Dr. Carver’s site states “Emotional events – good or bad – create “emotional memories” in the brain. Good emotional memories prompt a smile while traumatic memories may produce a panic attack, grief, fear, or intense emotional reactions. This article addresses the way emotional memories are made, used in daily living, and create problems in our lives. This handout is often used in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and with victims of emotional or physical abuse/trauma.“
Emotional Memory Management:
Positive Control Over Your Memory
Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D.
Every second we are alive, our brain functions. At a very basic level it maintains our breathing, our blood flow, our body temperature, and other aspects that allow us to stay alive and thinking. Emotional Memory Management , or EMM, is concerned with the thinking and memory part of brain functioning. Almost every aspect of daily functioning is directly related to our memory. As you read this document, your brain recognizes words and provides definitions as you read – pretty fast operating when you think about it! While this discussion is not concerned with reading or word-memory, it is concerned with the manner in which the brain pulls memory files, makes those files, and how those files influence our daily life.
The following discussion is based on psychological and neurological research, combined with on-going theories regarding memory, thought control, and therapy/counseling. Several theories and the results of research have been combined by the author in a manner which allows the practical and daily use of advanced knowledge on topics of memory and brain functioning. As research in this area continues, the author anticipates new, neurological definitions of previously-labeled psychological concepts such as “the subconscious” or the various defense mechanisms.
While the underlying theories are very technical, the concept is presented in a nontechnical manner. After reading this information, you are encouraged to practice the techniques, be curious about how your file system works and observe it in operation, and make the most of the new knowledge and understanding available.
A psychologist does not need to inform individuals about memory, we all know what memory is. Memory allows us to recognize faces of old classmates, remember old songs, remember good times and bad times, and remember important information about events/experiences in our life. Much like a modern-day computer, the brain stores memories in a system of files. In the past, these files were thought to contain only information or data, much like the files in an office contain patient information or file in a computer contains words or numbers. As science advances, we are beginning to know more about the brain and how it stores memories.
Recent studies in psychology and neurology tell us that the files contain not only data/information, but emotions as well. In a manner that is still partially unknown, the brain has the ability to store not only memories but emotions as well – as they occurred at the time the memory was made.
Memory files thus contain two parts, the information about the event and the feeling we had at the time of the event. Graphically put:
Memory file = Information + Feelings at the time…
[This article continues with How Memories Are Made.]