Episodic Memory and Self-Identity: An Introspection

3 Nov

It is said that our memories and past experiences shape who we are. How has it shaped mine? For this post, I’d try to dig up some of my early childhood memories. Let’s just hope that my long-term memory cooperates with me this time.

Early Schooling: Did I Even Enjoy It?


Photo credit: cartoonstock.com

Photo credit: cartoonstock.com


When I was four years old, I kept asking my grandpa when they’ll send me to preschool. I guess the opportunity to make new friends, sing songs with my classmates, and learn to read and write excited me the most. My grandparents finally sent me to preschool when I was five. I enjoyed every minute of the class. I loved doing the most active stuff like playing with my classmates to the most trivial things like tracing dotted lines to form letters of the alphabet. I immediately became comfortable around our teacher, Teacher Julie, because she always approaches us with a smile and she never loses her temper when one of us misbehaves or does something wrong.

Our classroom was quite small, and there were only ten of us in the class. We always had programs for special occasions like Buwan ng Wika (which was still called Linggo ng Wika back then), Nutrition Month, and Christmas. We’re asked to dance, sing, or deliver a declamation piece during these programs. Teacher Julie invites our parents to watch our performances, and I remember that all of us were more than willing to show off our talents.

If I were to describe my preschool years with one word, I’d definitely use the word fun. Teacher Julie showed us that learning new things about the world around us is fun, exciting, and rewarding.


Long-Term Memory and Retrieval of Information


Photo credit: cartoonstock.com

Photo credit: cartoonstock.com


These memories are categorized into autobiographical memory, a type of long-term memory that comprises specific events, experiences and situations in our personal life. It didn’t take me a long time to remember all of these things. They just sort of flowed freely in my mind, so I was able to express them in words in an instant. I guess this proves that information stored in our long-term memory is easier to retrieve when they are marked by positive emotions and feelings. My childhood memories were generally pleasant, so I had no difficulty retrieving information about my early years of schooling.

On the other hand, those who’ve had a traumatic childhood may have difficulty retrieving this kind of information. According to Freud, we unconsciously repress painful memories to protect ourselves from guilt and anxiety. These bad memories are pushed far down our subconscious mind, so it will be hard, if not impossible, to consciously retrieve them.

I’m lucky because I’ve had a very blessed childhood. All of these memories contributed to the formation of my self-identity, so it’s no wonder I turned out to be a well-rounded and well-adjusted person.


One Response to “Episodic Memory and Self-Identity: An Introspection”

  1. monetteabalos November 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Nice post!

    Pleasant long term experiences are easily remembered and retrieved. I like what you said about what Freud stated about painful memories. I think our Creator designed it that way to help us cope up with challenges in life and move on.


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