Douwe Draaisma

Douwe Draaisma

Douwe Draaisma (b. 1953) is a Dutch psychologist, university professor and the author of many books on human memory.

Non-Fiction
Photo: Sake Elzinga

His best-known book, on autobiographical memory, translated into twenty-five languages, is Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older (2001). The Man Who Lost His Head (2022) is an empathetic investigation into exceptional people driven by the most absurd and tragic delusions. He has also written Disturbances of the Mind (2006) and The Nostalgia Factory (2008) in which he compassionately describes the ageing memory. In Forgetting (2010) he looked at the phenomenon of forgetting, and in The Dream Weaver (2013) he examined our nocturnal longings and fears.

More Douwe Draaisma

Douwe Draaisma

Why Life Speeds Up with Age: On the autobiographical memory

Autobiographical memory is not a common topic of psychology, which feels ill at ease with a subject not readily open to scientific generalisation. But for that very reason it is highly popular with the general public. The associated problems are both concrete and intriguing. Where does the sense of deja vu come from? Why do we keep blushing years after a past humiliation? Why does life seem to pass more quickly with age, and why do dying people sometimes see scenes from their youth flash by in their mind’s eye? Each of us has wondered about these questions at some time, but psychologists prefer to steer clear of them for fear of being thought quacks.

Douwe Draaisma

The Dream Weaver

You suddenly realize you have no clothes on, although everyone else has; you’re overcome with embarrassment, yet no one seems to notice your nakedness. It’s a common experience, and a huge relief when you realize it’s only a dream.

Douwe Draaisma

The Man Who Lost His Head

Psychiatrists, neurologists and clinical psychologists meet patients who believe the most impossible things: that they are made of glass, that their deceased spouse is busying about the kitchen, that they drowned two years ago, that they are Jesus Christ. The variations are endless. How these delusions and hallucinations arise has long been unclear. 'The Man Who Lost His Head' explores in six short chapters some of the strangest brain disorders documented throughout history.

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