The Link Between Memories, Emotions and Motivation

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Memory is the capability to learn, retain, and also remember information from our previous experiences. Memories are accumulated from prior experiences and recollected, which can influence a change of behavior or thought. This ability can help us with learning and adapting to new experiences. I have always been fascinated with memory. We can’t see it, we can’t touch it, but yet we know it is there because how else could we learn? I chose this chapter because I wanted to expand my knowledge of memory and learn more about how we think. Memory is essential to our everyday lives and without it, we would not be able to remember what we did yesterday or what we intend to do tomorrow.

The first concept that caught my interest was flashbulb memory. Flashbulb memory is commonly thought of when people look back at a memorable moment in time and remember every detail like it was yesterday. However, flashbulb memories are not all they appear to be. Flashbulb memories are “an apparent vivid recall for an event associated with extreme emotion of uniqueness, such as the assassination of a president” (Ettinger, 2018: 289). This suggests in order for a memory to become a flashbulb memory it must be emotionally arousing and surprising. I chose this concept because I recall having my own flashbulb memory but did not know the proper name for it at the time. Once I realized it was a flashbulb memory I wanted to know more about them, so, I started doing my research. Some believe that flashbulb memories are developed after the event. When we attach information to a certain event, that event becomes a flashbulb.

From there people often think about the event all the time and they constantly are updating their memories. “Flashbulb memories are prone to distortion and forgetting, just like normal memories” (Ettinger, 2018: 289). These memories form in our everyday life but they are not always as permanent as we think. When someone creates a memory, especially one which is a flashbulb memory, they normally feel confident about what they remember. The events which are especially full of emotion are often recreated with vividness and confidence. However, flashbulb memories over a period of time can slowly turn into a false memory.

False memory is “ a memory of an event that never occurred; can be “planted” in a subject prior to recall by a variety of methods, including hypnosis” (Ettinger, 2018: 283). It is a fabricated remembrance of our past events that did not actually happen. Some people might feel confident with their memory, however, there is no guaranteed that some memories are actually 100% accurate. Confidence may sometimes result in a person to think something completely false into being completely true. False memories are often quite strong and emotionally charged, especially those that deal with acts of abuse or violence committed against the individual during childhood.

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I found this concept very interesting because I have heard of it before, but never knew exactly what it was. I chose this concept to learn more about false memories and how they come to be. I found that existing memories may interfere with the development of a new memory, causing the new memory of an event to be fallacious or entirely false. False memories can also be caused by external suggestions. An example of this would be Hypnosis, an artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible. Hypnosis is often used clinically to reduce reaction to pain and to encourage free association. (Ettinger, 2018: 283). Memories can become stronger and more intense as time passes. As time progresses, memories can become distorted and even begin to change. At some cases, the original memory may even be changed in order to incorporate new information or different experiences. Hypnosis could be a technique that causes false memories because the technique requires the therapist to guide the client in their thoughts. Sometimes the therapist may inadvertently give suggestions that may impact one’s memories during their therapy sessions.

Overall, memory is our storing of information in the brain over a certain period of time. Our memory uses different parts of our brain to store information. We all should note that our memory cannot be trusted 100% and we should not solely rely on our memory when it comes to making critical decisions. Our memory is an incredible gift, one that we should always appreciate.

The next chapter that I found interesting was Motivation. I chose this chapter because I strive to be motivated every day. It is something that I struggle with daily and wanted to educate myself with it more. Motivation is the process used to allocate energy to maximize the satisfaction of certain needs. It is “a condition or state that energizes and directs an organism’s actions” (Ettinger, 2018: 312). It requires that one have a reason to do something. Some believe that a person, who feels no drive or inspiration to act, can be characterized as unmotivated. While someone who is energized toward a goal can be defined as more motivated. People may also experience different levels and types of motivation based on their individual backgrounds, which means that they vary not only in their amount of motivation but also in the trend of that motivation.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory or CDT is a “theory that people experience psychological discomfort or dissonance whenever two related cognitions or behaviors are in conflict” (Ettinger, 2018: 316). I chose this concept because I had never heard of it before and wanted to learn more about it. From resources, I found out that as people, we often presume that the actions displayed by a person are piloted through their individual thoughts and opinions. However, cognitive dissonance theory shows that this is not always the case. CDT explains how people are compelled to commit actions contrary to their beliefs. The basic principle behind action-opinion theories is that these types of theories insinuate that actions can influence one’s beliefs and also attitudes. CDT is vitally important in social psychology because it is centered on how people try to become internally consistent with what they believe and behaviors. “Much of human happiness and misery is associated with the satisfaction of thwarting of these important cognitive motives” (Ettinger, 2018: 318).

Another concept that I am actually aware and have knowledge about is eating disorders. I have seen it in many different settings and in many different age groups. It is a topic I have done previous research on and wanted to learn more about. One of the eating disorder that I am focussing on is anorexia nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa is an “eating disorder characterized by prolonged refusal to eat adequate amounts of food; most common among young adults” (Ettinger, 2018: 325). Not to be confused with anorexia, which is simply a general loss of appetite that can be attributed to many medical ailments, anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder and mental illness. Anorexia nervosa has estimated to affect about “five in every one hundred teenage women” (Ettinger, 2018: 325). In general, the disorder is commonly characterized by a distorted body image or self-concept, critically low weight, and irrational fear of becoming fat or an intense desire to be thin. According to the Mayo Clinic, these individuals “may control calorie intake by vomiting after eating or by misusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics or enemas. They may also try to lose weight by exercising excessively. No matter how much weight is lost, the person continues to fear weight gain” (Par 2). Anorexia nervosa is undoubtedly a dangerous and alarming illness.

Sociologically, the popular culture surrounding the pressure to have a “perfect” body based on narrow beauty standards for men and women may influence precipitation and perpetuation of anorexia nervosa. Some individual may experience or exhibit symptoms differently, but dramatic weight loss is more often than not the primary sign of anorexia nervosa. Other physical symptoms include fatigue, hypotension, dry skin, cold, and dizziness. Psychological symptoms of anorexia nervosa may start as irritability, obsession over food, memory loss, depression, or insistence of being overweight even when underweight (Ettinger, 2018: 325).

Overall, I believe motivation can create a sense of happiness because if you are motivated and excited to do something, the possibilities are endless. When you wake up in the morning, motivation is the main thing that gets you out of bed. Take going to class for example. If you aren’t motivated and excited, you will be less likely to succeed.

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