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Köhler, L. (2014). On the Development of the Autobiographical Self and Autobiographical Memory—Implicit and Explicit Aspects. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 9(1):18-34.

(2014). International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 9(1):18-34

On the Development of the Autobiographical Self and Autobiographical Memory—Implicit and Explicit Aspects

Lotte Köhler, M.D.

The autobiographical self and autobiographical memory are developed in a reciprocal process. Both have implicit aspects, inaccessible to consciousness, as well as explicit, conscious aspects. The latter are lost to infantile amnesia by about the fifth year of life, while the implicit aspects are retained. Implicit memory content strongly influences feeling, thinking, and acting, out of our awareness. Only a fraction of overall brain activity is accessible to consciousness. The individual stages of development are described in terms of their genetically programmed maturation steps, as well as their prerequisites in specific, individual, inter-subjective experience. In its particular significance for development, the verbalization of implicit knowledge (“internal-state talk”) in the form of narration will be explained and illustrated. Knowledge of normal development and possible aberrations facilitates, in psychotherapy as a “talking cure,” the alteration of “implicit relational knowledge” strived for through expression in language of the explicit conscious insights made possible by new experience gathered in the analytic relationship.

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