BECAUSE MEMORIES ARE SHORT Here’s a refresher on how all your favorite shows left off last spring, just in time for fall premiere season. [Vulture]

Huffington Post’s The Morning Email, September 3, 2014

I did a double-take at the headline above. Why? Because memories are NOT short, and we all know it. At the same time—full disclosure—I don’t remember the ending of The Good Wife last season, but that’s okay because it’s back on Sunday coming as I write.

So let’s talk about the evidence, shall we?

Memories aren’t short at all.

We need to understand that there are different forms of memory. These may not be the “official” or scientific ways to divide up memory but they are how I’ve seen memory divided over and over again in thirty-two years of private practice.

Here are my categories of memory:





What triggers memory is a whole different ball of wax:

Smell, it is said, is the most primal form of memory.

I once followed a woman I didn’t know from the New York Public Library to Lord & Taylor—nearly half a mile—before I figured out why. She was wearing my mother’s perfume. My mother had been dead for ten years by then.

Next comes taste; then sound.

Just this morning, my partner was wrapping her toe with medical tape in the hope of avoiding a blister on a long walk and when she snapped the o-ring of the tape closed, I teared up instantly. Why? I wasn’t conscious of it but that’s a sound that I somehow have associated with my father. He’s been dead for fifty-two years.

Then we have visual, and then touch.

One of the things that soothed me as a child was to stroke the soft satin edging on my blanket. To this day, that same sensation reminds me that I’m safe. I’ll be fifty-seven in a few weeks.

Memory? You betcha.

So sure, we have a hard time remembering the end of the last season of our favorite shows, but that’s not really a memory function; or, it is, but it’s more a filing function than actual memory. Detail memory these days is clouded, to say the least. The basic reason is because of TMI—too much information.

The real issue is filtering. What do you deliberately cut out of your memory? Are you managing your memory? When was the last time you cleared the memory in your computer? The truth is that you get to manage your memory on every level.

When you next find yourself triggered by a negative memory, stop. Figure out which sense is responsible for triggering it, and replay the memory using another sense. You’ll defuse the trigger each time you do it till it’s just a memory and no longer a reaction.

The Good Wife was good, wasn’t it? Poor Cary. He’s going to have a lot of memory to clean up.