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Riolo, F. (2008). Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through: Freud's Legacy to the Psychoanalysis of the Future. Ital. Psychoanal. Annu., 2:7-13.

(2008). The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 2:7-13

Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through: Freud's Legacy to the Psychoanalysis of the Future Language Translation

Fernando Riolo

[Memory] usually chronicles the things that have never happened, and couldn't possibly have happened.

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Of the three terms considered by Freud in his well-known paper, it is the first that seemingly possesses the most clearly defined conceptual status: the classical theory of memory, repression, remembering and working through. As we know, this is not actually so, since the theory in each case has — even in the thought of Freud himself — undergone significant and sometimes radical revision. Furthermore, the investigation of mnemic processes has been substantially enriched by the recent contributions of the neurosciences, whose research remains an ongoing source of important confirmation, as well as offering new stimuli and posing new questions.

I should like to emphasize that many of the present-day findings of the neurosciences, based on empirical evidence, coincide with what we ourselves have long known — namely, that the processes of reception, selection and storage of stimuli from the external and internal worlds are largely dynamic and unconscious, as are also the processes whereby memories are recalled. Memory is not an archive of immutable data that can be faithfully recovered in consciousness, but a ≪system of transformation≫. Both the encoding (the consolidation of traces) and the retrieval of memories are the outcome of a complex process of selection and mixing of elementary fragments that is subject to constant restructuring. In other words, memories are always a posteriori (nachträglich) ≪constructions≫ — revisions, distortions and sometimes even actual ≪falsifications≫.

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