10/28/2013 5:49 PM

Forgetting: Theories and Solution

Forgetting is common to everyone. In fact, everybody can experience it and the frustration it brings when something needs to be recalled but can’t simply be retrieved. Why do people forget? Why is recalling sometimes becomes very difficult? There are a lot of theories of forgetting but only five are highly accepted, these are: a) the fading theory, b) the theory of interference, c) absence of adequate stimulation, d) obliteration of memory trace and e) the theory of repression.

Fading Theory

This theory states that learning creates certain changes in the brain. With learning, memory traces are created so recall can be easy. As time goes by though, the normal metabolic processes of the brain cause fading of the memory trace that is why the learned materials just disappear. This process is further enhanced because of disuse.

Theory Interference

This theory stipulates that old and new learning compete or interfere with each other. When something new comes up that is quite similar with the old data stored in the brain, confusion happens that could end up forgetting one of the stored information. Sometimes, after a hard work learning about something, a new lesson will just simply be difficult to store because the brain has become so focused with the previous one.

Absence of Adequate Stimulation

It is a common experience among us that we are unable to recall from the past because there is no appropriate stimulus to tickle the memory. Like for example, you forgot to bring your laptop because nothing happened or you did not see anything that could remind you about the it but when you see someone using a laptop, that particular event of seeing it will remind you about that gadget that you left at home.

Obliteration of the Memory Trace

This fourth cause of forgetting talks about certain conditions that can annihilate the memory trace because they are just so engaging or shocking that they completely dominate the mind.

An example to that is the story of a boy named Mark who planned to go to the movies with his friends. On his way to the theatre or mall, he saw this huge accident that involved a woman and a baby. He became so shocked but still managed to help these people in need. He then helped bring the two to the hospital and even stayed for a while to see that the both are okay. With what happened, he has forgotten that he was supposed to go to the mall and watched movies and could not even exactly remember what his original plan for the day was.

The next day when he opened reached inside his pocket; he noticed this small piece of paper. When he looked at it, he automatically recognized that those are for the movies but was not able to remember right away what his missed appointment was until things started to sink in and he finally remembered that he did not show up on his friends’ meet-up.

Repressive forgetting

This last theory of forgetting is known as the motivated or repressive forgetting. Repression is the unconscious process of excluding unwanted thoughts from awareness. Suppression is the conscious attempt to avoid unpleasant thoughts or action. Repression occurs effortless among individuals. Usually the thoughts that are repressed are not easy to retrieve as they are buried in the deepest part of the mind. Repression is involuntary while suppression is voluntary. Motivated forgetting may be temporary. Often, repressed memory hunts the person and feels that something is wrong, only that he or she does not know what. Repression is actually an individual’s defence mechanism to eliminate unwanted memories and retain the beautiful ones.

How to increase memory power

To enhance memory power is to eliminate constant forgetting. After knowing the theories of forgetting, it is necessary to take actions that govern those theories. To prevent the fading of memory, one must conduct exercises to keep the brain working. This way, the brain won’t be stagnant thus metal deterioration will be delayed.

To increase memory power, it is also necessary to limit memory interference. Take learning one at a time and do not mistake one for the other.

When something has been forgotten, be on the look-out for relevant stimuli. These will give spark to the brain to be able to recall that one important thing.

Finally, it is important to accept things as they are. Do not be totally bothered by the way it is, may be good or bad, and consider that everything happens for a reason ad all things are just worth remembering.


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