Reminiscence, Life Review, and Autobiography: Emergence of a New Era


  • James E. Birren
  • Cheryl Svensson


A new era is developing in which more people are telling, writing, and sharing their life stories. Our rapidly changing world and the impact that has on all people are among the factors influencing this trend. The information age is providing the technology that makes it easier to prepare and organize reminiscences about our lives.  Low printing costs have made it relatively inexpensive to have memoirs of life stories printed for sharing with family members, friends, and members of institutions and groups. The retirement years are expanding, people are living longer and have time to reflect upon their histories and write their life stories. There is also a growing cultural and historical interest in the histories of individuals living in different places and times and being exposed to unusual conditions of wars and environmental crises. The personal histories of life experiences are coming to be of greater interest in history. This has been accompanied by a growth in academic studies and research on the effects and personal changes brought about by organizing and sharing life stories. The growth in neuroscience research will reveal the patterns of memories stored in the brain and the related cognitive and emotional impact of those memories. A new era in reminiscence, life review and autobiography is emerging.






Special Section: Perspectives on Reminiscence and Life Review