Remember and Review of Forget and Let Go? Views from a Functional Approach to Autobiographical Memory


  • Susan Bluck


As humans, we show a certain contrariness in our view of remembering, particularly in relation to remembering our own personal past: we love to remember and we love to forget. This article explores this tension, providing a view from the functional approach to autobiographical memory. The benefits of remembering versus forgetting are discussed through exploration of three central questions: (i) What is the goal, the desired outcome, of remembering-forgetting (ii) does one principle, to remember or to forget, apply for both good and bad memories, and (iii) is it ethical to internally or externally manipulate others’ memories to induce forgetting? Using the functional approach, memory is presented not simply as helpful in creating and maintaining well-being. Instead, both positive and negative memories are presented as resources that help us to orient more broadly, as social animals, in time and space (Liao & Bluck, 2013).






Special Section: The Value of Personal Memories