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Forgetting And Learning


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We are unable to retain or recall everything that we learn everyday in our life. Many of the experiences slip away from our memory with the passage of time. this is called forgetting.

We are always learning something. But if we always learn and retain every experience, the pressure of the accumulated complex will make us loose our normalcy. In the absence of forgetting it will be difficult for us to accommodate new ideas in our already overcrowded memory. Forgetting leaves space for the settling in of new ideas. In this sense it is also an essential condition for good memory as Ribot has pointed out. It does not imply that we should forget everything that we have learned. To retain or to forget everything is not ideal and harmful. Fearful and unpleasant memories should be forgotten quickly, otherwise they will haunt us. But we forget many essential things and hence get into trouble.

Causes of Forgetting:

There are some subjective and objective conditions of forgetting. These we commonly call causes of forgetting. These causes hamper the processes of learning and retention.

  • Length of the learning material is a factor of forgetting. The more is the time taken in learning, the quicker is the rate of forgetting. Attitude or interest of the learner is an important factor in forgetting. Prose pieces are learnt with much pains at the cost of much time. Forgetting in the case of prose materials sets in quickly.
  • Under learning is another important causes of forgetting. If the lesson is half learnt, forgetting will be very quick.
  • Injury or shock to the brain is another cause of forgetting. We all know about the shock of amnesia.
  • Forgetting often takes place due to the influence of drugs. Narcotic drugs make the neurones ineffective. As a result drug addicts become forgetful.
  • Retroactive inhibition is often the cause of forgetting. When we learn anything, some time is taken for its consolidation. We often try to learn lots of things within a short span of time, one after another. In all such cases later experience casts influence on the previous experiences. Many things become blurred and forgetting sets in. Hindrance in the previous learning owing to the effect of later learning is called retroactive inhibition.
  • Forgetting may often set in due to mental fatigue. Long work of tiring mental work makes us mentally fatigued and exhausted. Our alertness is lowered. Forgetting becomes natural due to mental fatigue.
  • Forgetting may also become regular for want of proper rest. Rest, pause helps in consolidation. Want of proper sleep is often the cause of forgetting.
  • The psychoanalysts are of the opinion that “we forget because we want to forget!” We repress unpleasant memories into the unconsciousness. we want to forget the sorrows and horrors of life. So we forget them pretty soon.

Forgetting is often due to objective causes but mostly mental conditions are inherent in those cases. The influence of the unconscious mind is often active in making us forget. In order to minimize forgetting, we are to remove the possible causes of unconscious motivations for forgetting. To avoid forgetting we are to learn properly that would enhance our retention power.

1 Comment

  1. Psychology is one of the most interesting branches of science because there are so many unknowns.;;.

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