The urge to forget

Back in psychology class, we learned about various types of amnesia. Mainly retrograde and anterograde.  difference between retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia is the following:


The type I am referring to here though is Collective or Social Amnesia the kind where an entire group of people forget, repress, ignore or exclude historical issues, people or events. Perhaps as a result of ignorance, repression, changing circumstances or choice. Just as an individual might choose to block out a traumatic event or an inconvenient truth, so can communities, institutions and even entire nations. Anterograde Amnesia – The inability to form new memories.


Take for instance two people who share a day out together. Sometime later they both reminisce about the day. One recalls it had rained and they both got soaked through. The other remembers that they had an umbrella and therefore stayed dry. Nevertheless, the one that does most of the talking dominates the conversation which results in the collective memory that they both got soaked through.


The same thing can happen in a group setting. A speaker can be selective in their reconstruction of an event and induce forgetfulness (amnesia) in their audience. The audience begins to retrieve inaccurate memories to go along with the remodelled memories that are being offered to them.

Politics is a fine example. The same old parties revamped, swanky logos and under different leadership, all fighting in the best interest of “the people” when in fact the last time “they” were in power, they were the likely cause of the problems they are now fighting against!

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