Psychological Self-Help

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memories come in many forms: believing something + or - happened
which didn't; believing that something did not happen but it did;
believing he/she did something + or - (even a horrible crime) but they
didn't; believing they did not do something + or - but they did.
Additional studies demonstrate that false memories can be created
rather easily (Pickrell & Loftus, 2001). Moreover, parts of memories
can be easily changed by suggestive questions, by being told what
other people have done, by just being told to "think about it," and by
previous or subsequent events. 
In general, very negative memories stay with us longer than
pleasant memories--the exception to this is that personally
embarrassing parts often fade away quickly. In truth, we know
relatively little about why some people remember vividly some bad
experiences but thoroughly forget others. It probably has to do with
emotional needs, pay offs, and personality. Little is also known
(scientifically) about how to accurately recover repressed memories.
Likewise, we don't know a lot about the wisdom and risks of repressing
or recovering bad memories. Therapists have their hunches but the
science is limited. 
Of course, human memories are amazing phenomena. But, at the
same time, careful study should convince us that memories are seldom
if ever the total truth--there are idiosyncratic distortions and
omissions. For instance, there are even cultural-family influences on
memories--the childhood memories of American and Chinese adults
are very different focusing on different aspects of their early lives. Our
memories may be our most available and direct view of the past but it
could be healthy to recognize that we are seeing our past through a
murky, dark, wavy glass. The total picture is almost never available to
It might be helpful to find out if others who were there have the
same memories. These efforts to corroborate our memories often lead
to discovering that others familiar with your history have somewhat
different interpretations or impressions--different opinions. Sometimes
the memories of others are quite different from ours. In many
situations, the consideration of other views could be realistic and
healthy. Even the reduction of our certainty of what happened and
why it happened might be useful in our search for insight and
understanding. See woundology as an example of how people's
reactions and social support can influence the content of our
(3) Psychology has developed several ways to reduce the
emotional responses associated with a scary situation or object and
when unpleasant memories or thoughts come to mind. They include
some self-help methods: 
Confront the scary situation over and over (exposure methods
in chapter 12) 
Vent the feelings (chapter 12) 
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