MEMORIES AS ‘GHOSTS FROM THE PAST’
When you are
feeling depressed you may have very distressing memories
from key times in your life which seem to provide strong evidence for your negative beliefs. These are likely to be times when you felt intensive emotions such as sadness , shame or anger . Such moments may become ‘ negative self-defining memories ‘ that when viewed through the dark lens of depression , seem to prove or reinforce your negative views of yourself.
For instance, Michael had a very strong memory of pushing a frail old lady when he was working as a cleaner in a hospital . He felt terrible shame about this memory and believed himself to be a very nasty person because of it . He did not remember that the lady had been angry and confused at the time , that she had been pulling at his clothes and his hair for many minutes. , and that he had been trying to get away from her because she was out of control, and causing him a lot of pain. In that context his actions seemed understandable and not at all cruel.
It seems that
memory sharpens at times of great stress and difficulty
which means that we may recall specific details of these distressing events long after they have passed .
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