In the blog, Dr Catherine Loveday discussed a new film, ‘The Sense of an Ending’ directed by Ritesh Batra, in which the central character is bequeathed the diary of a close friend after his death.
Dr Loveday explained that the film shows the main character’s realisation that his memories only reflect the narrative he has created for himself, not necessarily those that reflect the reality. The film demonstrates how the protagonist was forced, through this diary, to face the actual events and truths that occurred which seemed to have been omitted by his memory.
Dr Loveday used this film as an example to illustrate what scientific research has recently found: “some aspects of human memory are very malleable. When it comes to knowing where we live, or what colour a tomato is, we are pretty reliable. But when it comes to recollecting journeys we have taken or conversations we’ve had, our memories are far less accurate.”
She concluded: “These memories of experience - our autobiographical memories - can only ever be constructed from our perceptions of what happened, which may well differ from someone else’s. We also make inferences, either at the time or later, which are heavily influenced by what we know and how we feel. Most importantly, we tend to let go of details that don’t sit comfortably with our sense of who we are or who we want to be. And by the same token, we rehearse and embellish those parts of the experience that confirm our identity and support our life goals.”