Sigmund Freud, blogging and dementia

A visit to the Freud Museum at 19 Birgasse Strasse in Vienna the other day and my brain was frantically doing somersaults, my pen flying across the pages of my little notebook! I absolutely love going to places and seeing, reading or hearing things that make me think and this was definitely one of those spaces. One of the exhibits said of Freud, “He had little faith in Archives: in his psychoanalytical theory they are frequently described as sites of censorship, since acts of remembering are closely linked to acts of forgetting.” This is giving me much food for thought in relation to dementia. Our recollections or memories are overshadowed by things such as our beliefs, biases, the stories we have been told as children, and the photos that support these ‘stories’; they are also often coloured by what we wanted our lives to have been, rather than what they were. Does this mean with dementia, that what we might not have remembered may not ever have really happened? And, should we stop being upset that we have not remembered something because it may not even be the truth? So, what do we really remember? I wonder. I know that I can recount my life through some recalled memories, via my blog and through talking to my husband and friends, and by looking at pictures, but now I often don’t actually remember what has happened. Maybe I never did?

The Freud museum also quoted that Freud’s manuscripts “are a medium for work, an aid in reflecting, surfaces on which his thoughts took form with great difficulty, subject to incessant correction or unceremonious disposal in the waste basket.” It is such a shame that so much of own our lives have been thrown in the bin, so to speak, as many of us have not been hoarders of our own history.  Perhaps by blogging, I now have a journal or history file of my life, useful for me, and interesting to a few others, especially my husband, and occasionally my children. This writing of a blog (my public diary) traces the lines of my personal expression of relationships, of thoughts and beliefs, an archive of the blogger’s (my) inner signature. It is open to a reader’s interpretation of course, but so is a book, a painting or photograph. But the intent of my writing is authentic, and also often autobiographical; a journal of thoughts and memories of a particular place in time. Private, sometimes even intimate thoughts permeate the pages of my blog, appearing as short stories, occasionally even like a letter, merely evidence of thinking and living. I studied Freud in my Psychology degree, even wrote a major essay about him, but I never thought about him in the context of dementia or my own personal history file. I have now been inspired to contemplate if forgetting (or remembering), and therefore dementia, is really such a problem at all. So much more thinking and writing to do on this (and other topics), and I resolved at this museum to write more, and for longer periods in an effort to express more of my world, both the now and the past.

5 thoughts on “Sigmund Freud, blogging and dementia

  1. You have sparked some memories of Psychology 101 from the early 80s. Well I think they are memories!
    Perception is an interesting topic. The stimuli for each of our senses is almost infinite, and ‘seemingly’, I was going to say ‘certainly’, overwhelming. Just take noise. There is potentially such a cacophony of it around at every instant that as creatures we have to learn to filter out most of it to give ourselves a chance of processing the important. Equally we learn to be receptive to certain patterns, eg, as a new emigrant 20+ years ago, friends would point out seated Kangaroos in the bush that I couldn’t see; eventually I learnt that a roo’s head looks like a dog with big ears, now I can see roos more easily.
    So even at that early stage in processing we are applying our own personal perspective on observable facts. That filtering threw heaps into the waste long before it entered our consciousness.
    When we apply the process of memory, as you say we apply our own personal biase. Further it isn’t a static process of once memorised it remains set in concrete, it remains somewhat fluid, and highly influenced by the opinions and manipulations of ourselves and others.
    Nevertheless it is the best we have as a memory within us. Only creating an external record, can help us retain the original perception. Hence, the police tell us to write down our record of a crime asap.
    Forgetting is equally interesting. We can’t force ourselves to forget anything, as the process of forgetting something specific requires us to select it from all the other memories, ie, to remember it, thus reinforcing the memory!
    Does dementure actually destroy memories, damage the links to them, or the hooks and links between them that make them comprehesible?
    Paul

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  2. Hello, a very thoughtfull and thought-filled post. I have long thought that the Alzheimer’s leaders and researchers have isolated themselves from brain science and thought. They are so wrapped up in the chemestry and miss the forrest of the mind for the few trees they keep climbing, over and over again. I’m am delighted to feel that your post conference blues have turned back in your natural sunshine.

    Richard

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  3. Your post touched a nerve. My mom has dementia and I had struggled for so long with all the “lies” she would tell me. She brought us up to tell the truth, no matter how hard sometimes. When she was FINALLY diagnosed I asked about this and he told me about “confabulation.” It helped me accept my new reality and I never visit without pictures so we can find some topics for shared memories.

    Keep writing!

    I’ve been writing to help make sense and share what I’ve learned with others — for more on eureka moment with confabulation, you can visit this post: http://dealingwithdementia.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/how-much-of-my-mom-is-still-my-mom/

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