I Was Therefore I Am: Creating Self-Continuity Through Remembering Our Personal Past


  • Susan Bluck
  • Hsiao-Wen Liao


Beginning at least in adolescence, humans are unique from other animals in the combination of having a conscious, reflective self and being aware of their movement through chronological time. Together, these create the need to maintain a sense of self-continuity across the lifespan. We review theory and research from the autobiographical memory and reminiscence literatures, arguing that maintaining self-continuity is a central function of remembering the personal past. A two-level conceptual model of self-continuity is proposed that acknowledges both the passage of chronological time in human lives and the malleability of retrospective views of one’s past. In presenting this model, we aim to ignite further research on the central roles played by reminiscence and autobiographical memory processes in maintaining and re-forging self-continuity over time. Such research is significant given the essential place of self-continuity in human adaptation and thriving.






Special Section: Perspectives on Reminiscence and Life Review