Psychiatric Annals

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Feature Articles 

The Autobiographical Self: Who We Know and Who We Are

Barton J. Blinder, MD, PhD

  • Psychiatric Annals. 2007;37(4)
  • Posted April 1, 2007

Abstract

What we sense as a “self” emerges from stimuli both from within and without our body through complex levels of neural integration. The integration of memory and self is not a one-time occurrence but involves lifelong development. The autobiography of self is the accumulated unique mental narrative that emerges from our experiencing and participating in the flow of events and interpersonal encounters that reach a level of awareness critically facilitated by emotional tone. Autobiographical memory plays an important role in the construction of personal identity. An individual’s construction of themselves through time serves the function of creating a coherent and largely favorable view of their present selves and circumstances.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barton J. Blinder, MD, PhD, is Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine.

Address correspondence to: Barton J. Blinder, MD, PhD, 400 Newport Center Drive, Suite 706, Newport Beach, CA 92660; fax 949-721-9572; or email bblinder@uci.edu.

The author disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Abstract

What we sense as a “self” emerges from stimuli both from within and without our body through complex levels of neural integration. The integration of memory and self is not a one-time occurrence but involves lifelong development. The autobiography of self is the accumulated unique mental narrative that emerges from our experiencing and participating in the flow of events and interpersonal encounters that reach a level of awareness critically facilitated by emotional tone. Autobiographical memory plays an important role in the construction of personal identity. An individual’s construction of themselves through time serves the function of creating a coherent and largely favorable view of their present selves and circumstances.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barton J. Blinder, MD, PhD, is Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine.

Address correspondence to: Barton J. Blinder, MD, PhD, 400 Newport Center Drive, Suite 706, Newport Beach, CA 92660; fax 949-721-9572; or email bblinder@uci.edu.

The author disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

What we sense as a “self” emerges from stimuli both from within and without our body through complex levels of neural integration. The integration of memory and self is not a one-time occurrence but involves lifelong development. The autobiography of self is the accumulated unique mental narrative that emerges from our experiencing and participating in the flow of events and interpersonal encounters that reach a level of awareness critically facilitated by emotional tone. Autobiographical memory plays an important role in the construction of personal identity. An individual’s construction of themselves through time serves the function of creating a coherent and largely favorable view of their present selves and circumstances.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barton J. Blinder, MD, PhD, is Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine.

Address correspondence to: Barton J. Blinder, MD, PhD, 400 Newport Center Drive, Suite 706, Newport Beach, CA 92660; fax 949-721-9572; or email bblinder@uci.edu.

The author disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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