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Reaction Paper for the Article “Thanks for the Memories” Essay

This article discussed the work of cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus from the University of Washington. She contended that when we recall a memory the event is not accurately recreated, but instead we recall a reconstruction of the actual event. She stated that this is most common in criminal investigation cases. Loftus argues that changing minor details in a question can cause a person to recall the event differently or even add in details that were not there to begin with.

She used four experiments to prove her hypothesis. Loftus’ work has been challenged, with some psychologists stating that the memory is not lost, but can be obtained with proper questioning. Recently, Loftus’ research has been applied to repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse that is recalled through the assistance of a therapist (Loftus, 560-572).

Upon reading the article, I found that many of the points made by Loftus make sense. I can easily compare and apply her research to real life situations. If you want current crime dramas, such as Law and Order, you can see the questions the lawyers use to trigger memories with the eyewitnesses.

It was very interesting however that changing simple key words in the question can almost create a memory in the person’s head. For example, Loftus compares the usage of “a” as opposed to “the.” I could ask an eyewitness, “Did you see a knife?” This question evokes a different answer than, for example, “Did you see the knife?” The second question implies that there was a knife at the scene.

I feel that it is up to the lawyers to ask the questions properly so the eyewitness can accurately recall the events, to the best of their ability. Of course, what I find fascinating is that a lawyer could use this method to elicit the responses they need from an eyewitness. By using this research, the prosecuting attorney could, in effect, make an eyewitness recreate an inaccurate event. I can understand where some of her research could be called into question as well.

The end of the article states that the memory is still there, but it is up to the investigators to focus on the right wording, as I stated above. In order to obtain accurate eyewitness accounts, an investigator must be made aware of how a witness will later recall the event in question.

I find it interesting and apt that Loftus’ research is being used to call into question reports of repressed child abuse. While I am sure that the complaining person is not automatically being doubted, a therapist could conceivably manipulate a person into believing that they were abused because it fits the diagnosis.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More For example, a therapist could ask a client, “Did he ever touch you?” This could mean a variety of things. The therapist would have to define the type of touch. I think it is important for therapists not to put their own personal spin on things.

They are there to assist their clients in unraveling their problems and offering plausible explanations and solutions. While it is important to question these repressed allegations, it should not be forgotten that if the therapist is at fault, their client is still a victim of their manipulative, whether intentional or not, tactics.

In conclusion, it is my belief that eyewitness testimony should never solely be used to convict someone of a crime. I am thankful that the judicial system does not rely on just one aspect of evidence in order to obtain a conviction. However, Loftus’ research could be used by a defense team to discredit an eyewitness. This must be taken into consideration as well as not all event recall is recreated memory.

I have to agree with Loftus’ research on some level in that I could see how different questions might lead someone to think that there was something there that maybe they had forgotten before that moment. However, I do not think there is enough information on how the brain stores and recalls information at this point in time to make Loftus’ research the tell all and end all to cognitive memory studies.

Reference Loftus, E.F (1975). Leading Questions and the Eyewitness Report. Cognitive Psychology, 7, 560-572.

The Things They Carried Explicatory Essay

Nursing Assignment Help The Things They Carried is a fictional chef-d’oeuvre by Tim O’Brien, which catalogs among other things, the different things that soldiers carried to the Vietnam War. These soldiers carried emotional and physical burdens alike. Obrien notes, “They carried the emotional baggage of men who might die.

Grief, terror, love, longing-these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories…cowardice…they carried the soldier’s fear (20). The psychological effects of the Vietnam War tore the soldiers psychologically especially Lieutenant Cross.

The psychological burden of guilt surfaces immediately after the story starts. Jimmy Cross, a lieutenant enlisted to take care of the other soldiers is the victim of the guilt burden. Jimmy witnessed as a bullet broke open Lavender’s skull. Given the fact that he was the one in charge of the other soldiers’ well-being, he felt he could have done something to prevent Lavender’s death.

Unfortunately, he could do nothing at that point; Lavender was dead and gone for good. Jimmy became emotionally troubled because instead of concentrating on the security and well-being of fellow soldiers he could only think of Martha. Consequently, Lavender died due to his lack of concentration or so he thought.

Jimmy could not live up to this duty and when Lavender died before his eyes, he realized how careless he had been in executing his duties. All these feelings culminated into guilt feelings, an emotional burden that he had to bear so long as the war continued. What a terrible emotional baggage for one to carry!

Cross sincerely loved Martha and no matter how hard he tried to subdue these feelings, they resurfaced with time. This psychological burden weighed so heavily on him that at times he lost focus on the war. O’Brien observes, “He loved her so much…though painful, he wondered who had been with her that afternoon” (8).

Though painful, Jimmy decided to forget Martha completely, bear the psychological turmoil attached to it, and focus on the war. Forgetting a lover is not an easy task, it takes more than a willing heart, it takes absolute resolve, and this comes with its psychological upheavals.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Emotionally, Cross was a torn person, full of sorrows and heavy laden with emotional burdens. O’Brien deliberately explores Jimmy’s case to show the psychological burdens that the soldiers brought along together with the things they carried. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross was not alone in this predicament, as aforementioned, every soldier had his fair share of emotional baggage, as shown by the few soldiers O’Brien chose to use in The Things They Carried.

Family ties are usually very strong and separating someone from his/her family amounts to emotional torture; something that the soldiers had to live with. For instance, Kiowa, “…carried an illustrated New Testament that had been presented to him by his father…” (O’Brien 3). Nothing could remind Kiowa of his dad like that treasured bible; every time he saw the bible, he would remember his beloved father.

Henry Dobbins on his part carried a pair of pantyhose and he would poke his noses into the paper containing the panties from time to time. Not that Henry Dobbins loved his girlfriend’s panties; no, he missed her and this burdened him psychologically.

In conclusion, the intangible things that the soldiers carried into the Vietnam War had real weight, to some extent, heavier than the physical burdens. Jimmy Cross carried the guilt of letting Lavender die while engrossed in thoughts of his ever-elusive lover, Martha.

Kiowa carried the emotional burden of his father and grandfather and the possibility of not seeing them once again weighed heavily on him. Collectively, these soldiers experienced different forms of psychological torture, especially Cross who had to forget his lover and bear the guilt of seeing Lavender die from his carelessness.

Works Cited O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.

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