Forensic psychologist and memory expert Dr. Julia Shaw reveals why we are all unreliable narrators of our own life stories.
Think you have a good memory? Think again.
Memories are our most cherished possessions. We rely on them every day of our lives. They make us who we are. And yet the truth is they are far from being the accurate record of the past we like to think they are. True, we can all admit to having suffered occasional memory lapses, such as entering a room and immediately forgetting why, or suddenly being unable to recall the name of someone we've met dozens of times. But what if we have the potential for more profound errors of memory, even verging on outright fabrication and self-deception?
In The Memory Illusion, forensic psychologist and memory expert Dr. Julia Shaw uses the latest research to show the astonishing variety of ways in which our brains can indeed be led astray. She shows why we can sometimes misappropriate other people's memories, subsequently believing them to be our own. She explains how police officers can imprison an innocent man for life on the basis of 300 denials and just one confession. She demonstrates the way radically false memories can be deliberately implanted, leading people to believe that they brutally murdered a loved one, or were abducted by aliens. And she reveals how, in spite of all this, we can improve our memory through simple awareness of its fallibility.
Fascinating and unnerving in equal measure, The Memory Illusion offers a unique insight into the human brain, challenging you to question how much you can ever truly know about yourself.
Dr. JULIA SHAW is senior lecturer in criminology at London South Bank University in the UK, where she has worked since 2015. She was previously a lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Bedfordshire and before that taught courses on forensic psychology at the University of British Columbia and the University of Waterloo. A Canadian citizen with a Canadian father, Dr. Shaw has a BA from Simon Fraser University and PhD from the University of British Columbia. She is one of only a handful of experts in the world who actively conduct research on complex memory errors related to emotional personal events--so-called "false memories." She has won two teaching excellence awards for her classes on memory at the undergraduate and graduate level. She has also delivered general business and police-training workshops, evaluated offender diversion programs and worked with the British police to advise on historical sexual and physical abuse cases. She has also been featured as an expert on TV, radio and in UK and international newspapers.
"Shaw's debut book is a spryly paced, fun, sometimes frightening exploration of how we remember?and why everyone remembers things that never truly happened. . . . Shaw's quirky charm enlivens the book throughout." “Pacific Standard
"Truly fascinating." —BBC Radio
"Illuminating and illustrative." —Tablet