“I have done that,” says my memory.
“I cannot have done that,” says my pride,
and remains inexorable. Eventually—memory yields.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, 1886/1989, p. 801
Pride is not the only emotion that prompts people to relinquish the memory of experiences that they wish to forget. Shame, regret, humiliation, and other painful feelings affect a person's desire to dismiss perceived transgressions. Depending on the contextual circumstances of the behavior that is attempted to be forgotten, the letting-go process may be purposeful or maladaptive. In a related direction, individuals may pursue a step beyond memory yield and take an action that seeks to negate or undo a prior act. Through an expiatory gesture, a person may retract a previous behavior. A woman, for instance, says to a friend, “I don't ...