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In praise of oblivion


Published in

Diario de Navarra and Heraldo de Aragón

Gerardo Castillo

School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

F orgetting is frowned upon. On the other hand, we value remembering very much. "Forgetting has a bad reputation," said Carlos Vara, researcher of cognitive processes from the neurosciences, in a dissertation on the benefits of forgetting. "We believe that our life would be easier and better if we had more capacity to retain information. However, more and more scientists are arguing that we should consider the processes of forgetting as necessary and complementary to those of remembering, because the right balance between the two is what gives us a good report", he says. Researchers Blake Richards and Ronald Davis propose that we should view report as a balance between persistence and disappearance of knowledge. We should view report as a set of patterns and data that is constantly being updated by adding new elements and removing unneeded ones.

The fact of not remembering everything is not a problem, as pointed out by philosopher and psychologist William James, who states that "remembering everything would be as incapacitating a disease as forgetting everything. To remember we must forget. The philosopher and theologian Carlos Cardona argues that we should not conceive of forgetting as something to be eradicated, since forgetting is not a lack, or a defect, but a fundamental part, together with remembering, of the processes of report. There are different mechanisms for forgetting. The most studied is that of active or intrinsic forgetting, which is carried out by the nervous system in a constant way, which contributes to a good functioning of report. This helps us financial aid to disengage from traumas or complicated situations of our past, so that we can better face the future, adapting better to the challenges that may arise. Every day our brain is bombarded with a huge amount of information from different sources. This information is noise that reduces the clarity of our thoughts and we need to do something about this flow of inconsequential information. Forgetting financial aid to eliminate it. Some recent research affirms that forgetting is an essential activity that, in addition, complements remembering. One cannot exist without the other. We forget what is superfluous, what we do not really need, and thus our nervous system opens us to the unpredictable. Forgetting makes room for the new, for innovation, and causes us to prioritize what is important in our lives and experiences, thus taking advantage of the knowledge it offers us. We have all gone through situations that made us happy, but there comes a time when happiness is truncated and causes bad memories that we cannot erase; there is only the possibility that they hurt less and less and even that, with the passage of time, they stop hurting us. To achieve this, it is necessary to relativize what happened, to give a new value to the hurt feelings and to integrate them into our life history. The basis of this process is empathic understanding, which was explained by the American psychologist Carl Rogers as the ability to see things as the other sees them, putting oneself in the other's shoes. This must be coupled with learning to forgive.

We have the opportunity to work through the bad experiences of the past and not let them take control over us. But we don't usually do it: we give memories a power they don't have. That is why it is important to clarify that we are more than memories, we are the ones who give meaning to our report, who give it shape. We can apply this attitude, for example, to possible offenses received in the family. It has been said that marriages with "bad report" (without a list of grievances) are usually happy marriages. What works for peace in a family history is also applicable, in a way, to the history of a country. A good example is the exemplary transition from dictatorship to democracy in Spain. In the new status there were no longer winners and losers. The Spaniards of that time knew how to forget and forgive. Do we today know the same thing?