Technologies to Remember or Forget? A Perspective from Reminiscence and Life Review


  • Gerben J. Westerhof


This paper addresses recent technological developments in altering or even erasing memories. From a critical perspective these technologies are seen as artificial as they disrupt identities and true happiness. This basically resonates with the value attributed to remembering in the field of reminiscence and life review. From a proponent perspective it is argued that technologies have always been used to filter our memories and thereby support the dynamics of identity development. This position is consistent with a more dynamic view of reminiscence and life review that also takes different attitudes towards remembering and forgetting into account. The last part of the paper combines both perspectives in an evaluation of the use of propranolol, a drug that might contribute to willful forgetting under specific conditions. This evaluation also raises new questions for the field of reminiscence and life review.






Special Section: The Value of Personal Memories