The Self That’s Left When Memories Fade

The Self That’s Left When Memories Fade
January 24, 2013

Our memories and experiences help shape who we are, so what happens when memories are erased?
Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin talks about the role memories play in defining our sense of self and the challenges that arise when we lose them.

Daniel Levitin, professor of psychological and behavioral neuroscience at McGill.
His forthcoming book is titled “The Organized Mind.”

LEVITIN: Well Neal, it goes back to John Locke, the philosopher who said our memories of our past are part of what gives us a sense of identity. Now what do we mean by that? Well, the University of California Santa Barbara psychologist Stan Klein has distinguished a number of different components of what we mean by self.

And it’s a bit confusing, isn’t it? We talk about self-control and self-esteem, self-regulation, self-improvement, self-image.
Well, Klein distinguishes seven components of the self, and I’d like to talk with you about four of them.

LEVITIN: First there’s self-awareness. That’s the ability we have to recognize ourselves in a mirror or to recognize the parts of our body and know that they are ours.
And separate from that we have a sense of agency or responsibility. You recognize that your body belongs to you and that you more or less control it

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