This is a really good book but it gets complicated even in the structure and organization in part because much of it works together.
Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering
By Scott Small
2021 / 211 pages (print)
Read by Timothy Pabon 5h 49m
Rating: 9 / nonfiction – psychology
1. To Remember, To Forget: The general benefits of forgetting: “Funes” by Jorge Luis Borges
2. Quiet Minds: Is autism – the need for sameness – parts or pieces more important than the whole (Arcimbaldo paintings) jigsaw puzzles with the box or not? Deficits in pattern – processing social stimuli – same as processing facial features – Autism results in not remembering the pieces to put them together? It’s all new every time? We forget in order to cognitively generalize. (Pg 43)
Giuseppe Arcimboldo: https://www.giuseppe-arcimboldo.org (Pg 59)
“Both artificial and natural intelligence depend on forgetting to generalize and reconstruct the whole from the parts in order to categorize and label even when they vary subtly infinite ways.” (Pg 61)
3. Liberated Minds: PTSD – remove power of memory – Israeli conflicts – final category of PTSD is relevant to forgetting and is called “extinction” (ability to forget the trauma). But how to avoid PTSD as the author and buddies did? Also the mechanics and the whole important idea of forgiving.
4. Fearless Minds: Two personalities – cousins. B is bonobo and C is a chimpanzee – together they are Pan genus. But should Homo sapiens be there too? DNA lead to a new taxonomy but the old is not irrelevant. Humans seem to have some of each, B & C. Then there’s fight, flight or fright.
5. Lightening Minds: Dementia and Creativity (de Koonig and Jasper Johns) – when does dementia begin? What is Alzheimer’s and how different? Does this forgetting affect creativity?
https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1997/dekooning/Johns recommended sleeping and Francis Crick (Nobel DNA) did studies on consciousness and sleep.
“We dream in order to forget.” To clean the spines which collect new memories. No wonder babies sleep so much – there is so much that is new to them.
6. Humble Minds: Personal biases – same ideas as “Noise” by Kahneman Doctor friend feels he has a poorer memory than other doctors. Maybe true – his own dad was like that. But why very high intelligence if poor memory? Less hippocampal functions were higher. Short term memory – pre-frontal cortex is large. Pieces which act collectively. Working memory for manipulation and decisions comes later so children have trouble controlling their impulses.
Metamemory – how well do we assess our own memory. Alzheimer’s patients sometimes know they are losing their memory but some don’t understand they are losing it.
Sometimes we are wrong and need to be able to admit it and change our minds – intellectual humility. His Dr X sounds like a generally humble guy.
Kahneman and Tversky – Cognitively lazy heuristics humans don’t think through the bat and ball question. Much here is repetitive of Noise and Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow. Memory priming – implicit and explicit memories. Internal indicators in some very mathematical minds – superior pre-frontal cortex will override fast-thinking.
7: Communal Minds: Dementia – Joan and her daughter. forgetting names and how that feels to the person to be named, the loved one. Caring depends on memory. Letting go means forgetting – the brain’s emotional forgetting. Forgiving a nation – Jews. Civil War and canceling and so on. “Returning home” homesickness, extreme nostalgia and a “brain on fire” with too many memories. The doctor Jonathan Hofer understood in 1688. PTSD is toxic emotional memory “hypermnesia” – nationalism. Forgetting – memories overwhelm ethical IQ. In US it’s 9/11.
8. Epilogue: Pathological Forgetting – the cause is defective proteins. It took a long time to acknowledge Alzheimer’s as a disease of dementia/senility and a very wide-spread one. It’s the tail end of the aging process although there is a rare early-onset form. People want to know how to fix it. But then everyone was scared they had it. Small tried to locate earliest stages. Technology had to catch up and show photos of hippocampi. The medical and pharmaceutical industries continue to research protein pathologies.