Forgetting may also result from failure to retrieve information in memory, such as if the wrong sort of retrieval cue is used. For example, Dan may not be able to remember the name of his fifth-grade teacher. However, the teacher’s name might suddenly pop into Dan’s head if he visits his old grade school and sees his fifth-grade classroom. The classroom would then be acting as a context cue for retrieving the memory of his teacher’s name.
Psychologist Sigmund Freud proposed that people forget because they push unpleasant or intolerable thoughts and feelings deep into their unconscious. He called this phenomenon repression. The idea that people forget things they don’t want to remember is also called motivated forgetting or psychogenic amnesia.
Anterograde amnesia is the inability to remember events that occur after an injury or traumatic event. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to remember events that occurred before an injury or traumatic event.