• Implicit versus Explicit Memory

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Implicit versus Explicit Memory

7 September 2021

Did you know that if you have an overly strong reaction or response to something in the present moment, you might actually be responding to a past event, stored as implicit memory?

Most memories formed before the age of 3 are implicit; we don’t have the ability to recall them as memories, in the same way that we can recall learning to rid a bike.

But these “forgotten” memories are still very much alive in our systems and we are probably going through our adult lives responding to the “now” through the lens of our implicit memories, often stored in our bodies.

Trauma memories are often implicit, because trauma floods our brain with cortisol, the stress hormone, which shuts down the part of our brain that encodes memories and makes them explicit.

Our implicit memories can be like invisible forces in our lives, impacting us in powerful ways.

The more we can learn about implicit memory, the better we can understand ourselves and not let our experiences and reactions in the present get hijacked by our past.

For example, you might find yourself over reacting to a child crying loudly or someone letting you down at the last minute, in ways that seem disproportionate to the event. This is likely to be an implicit response.

Getting to:

A : Understand what we hold as implicit memory, and,

B : learning how to access and integrate/understand these memories gives us more understanding of the Self.

This leads to greater management of our emotional responses in our day to day lives, and also allows the body greater capacity for healing.

Often, our strongest, most intense reactions in the present come from our implicit memories, because of the intense feelings attached to these memories. However, if we can make these implicit memories explicit, we can resolve unresolved trauma and feel more integrated within ourselves.

Biodynamic craniosacral therapy is one way we can work safely to access, process and integrate implicit memory. It’s often a fascinating process once you realise how these experiences are still running in your daily life!

I highly recommend reading Dan Siegel if you’re interested in learning more.

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