Past as Prologue

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1994, Vol 39(1), 11–12. Reviews the book, Remembering the Personal Past: Descriptions of Autobiographical Memory by Bruce M. Ross (1991). Almost half of Ross's book is spent explicating Freud's ideas about memory and reviewing subsequent developments in psychodynamic theories of memory. Some modern schools of analytic thought have discarded Freud's repression theory and the associated objective of recovering those memories through analysis. Is this progress? Ross withholds judgment. He pointedly notes, however, that we are still trying to understand memory for traumatic events and whether or how fantasies can be distinguished from real thoughts and memories. Characteristically, Freud speculated freely about a wide range of memory processes. The deep problem of accuracy, objective truth, is a central problem for all theories of memory. Conventional cognitive theories tend to ignore point of view and the validity of multiple perspectives. Social constructionists dismiss notions of biological constraints on the mind. Both sides need to unpack their presuppositions and clarify their rhetorical claims Ross is a model for this task. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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