Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Involuntary Autobiographical Memories
An Introduction to the Unbidden Past


  • Date Published: July 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107405981

£ 32.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • We often remember personal experiences without any conscious effort. A piece of music heard on the radio may stir a memory of a moment from the past. Such occurrences are known as involuntary autobiographical memories. They often occur in response to environmental stimuli or aspects of current thought. Until recently, they were treated almost exclusively as a clinical phenomenon, as a sign of distress or a mark of trauma. In this innovative work, however, Dorthe Berntsen argues that involuntary memories are predominantly positive and far more common than previously believed. She argues that they reflect a basic mode of remembering that predates the more advanced strategic retrieval mode, and that their primary function may simply be to prevent us from living in the present. Reviewing a variety of cognitive, clinical, and aesthetic approaches, this monograph will be of immense interest to anyone seeking to better understand this misunderstood phenomenon.

    • A unique focus on involuntary autobiographical memories in everyday life by the leading researcher in the field
    • Relates studies on involuntary autobiographical memories to the experimental literature of daydreaming as well as to recent developments in brain imaging literature
    • Discusses artistic and literary interpretations of involuntary memories, including those of Marcel Proust and Cesare Pavese
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'A valuable addition to a field that has traditionally received less attention than warranted. Scholarly, timely and necessary for memory research as a whole.' Dr James Erskine, School of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire

    'A marvellous book. Writing with an engaging style, Berntsen identifies the important common and distinctive features of involuntary memories and provides a virtual blueprint for the next generation of research. Cognitive and clinical psychologists alike will appreciate her analysis of the role of memory in posttraumatic stress disorder and depression.' Joseph Fitzgerald, Wayne State University

    'Dorthe Berntsen's book on involuntary memories – experiences we all have many times every day – is a marvellous work of scholarship on a neglected topic. She takes a broad view, collects relevant evidence from disparate fields, and writes in an elegant but readable style. The book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in how memory works and would make a wonderful text for a graduate or advanced undergraduate seminar on this fascinating topic.' Henry L. Roediger, Washington University, St Louis

    'This book is much more than a research review and integration of findings. The writing is exceptionally lucid, the content scholarly without being ponderous … The exciting theoretical issues raised in this book will engage students, experienced researchers, and scholars who share a serious interest in the organization and functions of autobiographical memory. For readers who believe that psychology and related disciplines are enriched by a truly integrative and theory-driven approach, this book is an inspiration.' David B. Pillemer, Memory Studies

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107405981
    • length: 242 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction to the unbidden past
    2. Theoretical backgrounds
    3. Ways to study the unbidden past
    4. How special are involuntary autobiographical memories?
    5. How do they come to mind?
    6. Differences between involuntary and voluntary autobiographical memories
    7. Involuntary memories of traumatic events
    8. Future and past.

  • Author

    Dorthe Berntsen, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.