the memory of past events


anamnesis = die Erinnerung oder das Gedenken an die Vergangenheit; Reminiszenz — in der Humanmedizin ein strukturiertes Gespräch zur Krankheitsgeschichte des Patienten — eine prompte Immunreaktion auf ein zuvor aufgetretenes Antigen —— Wiedererinnerung der Seele an vor der Geburt, d. h. vor ihrer Vereinigung mit dem Körper, geschaute Wahrheiten



“Amnesia, Nostalgia, and ANAMNESIS as Reactions to the Wende”

Mary-Elizabeth O'Brien — Cambridge University Press (14th February 2023)

"ANAMNESIS – The Remembering of Things’ invites reflection on social issues
Christy Ferrato’s art spans spectrum of mixed media"

David Albright — The Journal (23rd February 2023)

Did you


- the recollection or remembrance of the past; reminiscence

- a patient's account of their medical history

- a prompt immune response to a previously encountered antigen, characterized by more rapid onset and greater effectiveness of antibody and T cell reaction

- the recollection, especially of a supposed previous existence

Oxford Languages / Dictionary(dot)com / Collins Dictionary


“Anamnesis” stems from two Greek components: ana- (ανά) meaning "up", "back", or "again” and mnēsis (μνήσις) meaning "memory" or "act of remembering”. Literally translated, anamnesis translates to "recollection" or "calling to mind”.

The concept of anamnesis finds its roots in Plato's theory of knowledge. Plato believed knowledge wasn't acquired anew, but rather recollected from a previous existence, the realm of Forms. Through anamnesis, one could access this innate knowledge through reason and contemplation.

The term "anamnesis" entered the English language in the mid-1600s, borrowed directly from Latin and derived from Greek.

Over time, anamnesis transcended philosophy and entered the medical field by the Middle Ages. It referred to the process of gathering a patient's medical history.

Today, anamnesis retains its medical meaning and has also found application in psychology, particularly in psychoanalysis, where it signifies the process of uncovering repressed memories.


In his monumental novel 'In Search of Lost Time', Marcel Proust pioneered the literary exploration of a profound psychological concept - anamnesis. This term refers to the vivid resurrection of long-forgotten memories triggered by seemingly insignificant sensory experiences in the present. For Proust, it was the taste of a madeleine cookie dipped in tea that unlocked an overwhelming tide of memories from his childhood in Combray. The evocative smell and flavour transported him back decades, resurrecting intricate details and emotional resonances inaccessible through voluntary acts of remembering.

Proust's revolutionary insights revealed that memory is fundamentally encoded through all five senses, not just visual inputs. Smells, tastes, textures, and sounds imprint themselves subtly into our subconscious, only to be later recovered by parallel sensory cues.

Paul & Helga Smith


Synonyms for “recollection”:

anamnesis, calling to mind, commemoration, déjà vu, eidetic memory, flashback, flash of memory, flood/fragment of memories, glimmer of recollection, hint of the past, journey (trip) down memory lane, memory flashback (jogger, lane, picture, recall, revival), mental flashback (photograph, picture, snapshot), musing, nod to the past, recall, recapture, recognition, RECOLLECTION, reflection, reliving, reminiscence, remembrance, retrospect, retrospection, review, reviewal, rumination, stirring of memory

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“If ANAMNESIS interests you, the latest must-read ‘Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory’s Power to Hold on to What Matters’ by Charan Ranganath (published in February 2024) is highly recommendable.”

Why Support OWAD?

On evenings and weekends, I research and write your daily OWAD newsletter together with Helga (my wife and business partner) and our daughter Jennifer. It remains FREE, AD-FREE, and ALIVE thanks to voluntary donations from appreciative readers.

If you aren’t already, please consider supporting us — even a small donation, equivalent to just one cup-of-coffee a month, would help us in covering expenses for mailing, site hosting, and maintenance.

Just head over to DonorBox:


Bank transfer:
Paul Smith
IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

Important: please state as ‘Verwendungszweck’: “OWAD donation” and the email address used to subscribe to OWAD.

Thanks so much,

Paul Smith

New Seminar! 1-day “Intelligent English" with Paul & Helga Smith:

More Word Quizzes: