chapter  12
Where the lights and shadows fall: On not being able to remember and not being able to forget
Pages 17

In this chapter, I would like to examine, from a psychoanalytical point of view, the question of this particular kind of lack of ‘illumination’ in the conscious mind – a regression to a memory-less state of almost complete darkness, of being psychically reduced to the narrow beam of a candlelight. I will also examine the question of the emotional inability to forget, as to my mind these apparently opposite psychological problems in fact belong to the same area of the psychopathology of memory. I am thinking about the problem of an excessive ‘illumination’ of particular events in the mind which compulsively steal the limelight, which can be the consequence of trauma, that is to say, of the ego being overwhelmed by an experience it cannot deal with. Traumatic experience may return unmodifi ed to the conscious mind as if it is never transformed into a proper memory, psychologically remaining perpetually in the present. 2 Excessive fear, excessive grief, or an excessive sense of grievance create situations where ordinary forgetting cannot take place.