The fabrication of memory in communication

Fell, Elena Vladimirovna (2011) The fabrication of memory in communication. Empedocles European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication, 2 (2). pp. 227-240. ISSN 1757-1952

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The relation of our past memories and our communication with others is not simply that of linear causality, whereby our memories smoothly glide into our communicative performance and remain unaffected themselves. Psychologists reveal the opposite process where a current communication has an effect on our memories, not just influencing their selection but also producing false recognition. In this article I will attempt to give a philosophical evaluation of this twofold relationship of memory and communication, paying a special attention to the fabrication of memories, to the significance of this process for the effectiveness of social integration, and to the effects it may have on our authenticity as individuals.
An act of communication is not a creation ex nihilo but is a culmination of numberless physical and psychological processes, one of which is remembering, forgetting and recalling. What we say ourselves may be a logical and smooth prolongation of our memories and our past lives, but what we hear from others is not. The information that is communicated to us may contradict our previous beliefs, our previous understanding of the matter in question, and even threaten our established worldview. This is acutely felt by people who have to live through a value-changing period in their society or through a crisis in their personal life.
Nevertheless we are required to maintain the communicative process and respond to new demands, and so we have to find ways of adapting ourselves to the new information, even if our past experiences and beliefs cannot serve as a foundation for accepting it. We can, however, construct such a foundation retrospectively, making ourselves believe that we were being prepared for this new situation. For example, the people who lived through the collapse of the Soviet Union, had to face a complete change of values, and the process of adaptation seemed less traumatic for those who, (as far as I observed) fabricated or inflated their own supposed disagreement with the system prior to the political changes.

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