45 pages 1 hour read

Sigmund Freud

The Uncanny

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | Published in 1919

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“Screen Memories”Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Essay Summary: “Screen Memories”

Freud opens “Screen Memories” by stating that the theories he will set out are derived from his observations during the psychoanalytic treatment of his patients. Freud claims that “[p]sychological interest in the subject of childhood memories is assured in all cases” (3) because of the difference between children and adults, and the relatively small number of early memories that adults retain from their early years. Freud’s main assertion in this essay is that “a constant relation is established between the psychical significance of an experience and its persistence in the memory” (3). Moreover, Freud claims, pathology is often linked to the forgetting of significant memories.

Freud states that “one would be inclined to assume that the principle of selection [of what to remember and what to forget] was the same for the child as for the adult” (5). Yet this is not the case, Freud says, because frequently children recall banal occurrences with no apparent importance whatsoever. In one case, a child recalls a bowl of ice they had observed during the period their grandmother had died, but no details of her passing. To explain this, Freud says, “we must first ask ourselves why [the memory] suppresses what is significant, but retains what is of no consequence” (6).