Have you ever thought back on something in your life and realized that what you are convinced you remember may have been a bit different than you believe? Or not even true at all? This is known as False Memory syndrome, and it’s a lot more common then you might think. Anything can influence your memory, from looking at old pictures, home movies, stories you hear from multiple sources, sometimes dreams can even influence what you think that you remember. In my own life I have noticed this happening to myself before.
In my family, taking home videos was overused. We have an entire box just filled with home movies from vacations, to trips to the park, going to the beach, just us kids doing stupid things, etc. So growing up it was entertaining for us to see ourselves when we were younger and the dumb things we said and did. But because of these home movies now when I try and think back on those memories I see them instead of from my point of view, I see it from the camera’s point of view and what that showed. So now I feel like I remember those memories but really I just remember watching the video of that experience.
Now another example of this is when you may have entirely fabricated memories out of thin air. Maybe you had a dream and now you’re not sure if it actually happened or not, or you heard a story about someone else and thought it was you. For example, I have a vivid memory of going to the Bug Museum in Philadelphia for a class trip in 1st grade. I remember wearing a lady bug dress, I remember looking at all the cool bugs, and I remember volunteering to “eat” a bug and that it tasted like BBQ chips. Now, even though I have this memory of this happening and can remember all the details of it, I am still not 100% sure of this actually happening. Because when I told my parents that this happened, they looked at me like I was crazy and told me that that literally never happened.
So this is where the phenomenon of false memories fits in, did it actually happen or was it just something I thought I remembered. That is what makes it so interesting because everyone has this happen to them at some point in their life. TIME magazine posted an article about false memories saying, “What’s long been a puzzle to memory scientists is whether some people may be more susceptible to false memories than others — and, by extension, whether some people with exceptionally good memories may be immune to them. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences answers both questions with a decisive no. False memories afflict everyone — even people with the best memories of all” With that being said, you shouldn’t feel like there is something wrong with you or that there’s something wrong with your brain if this happens to you often. They are still doing studies to find out why this happens but all it’s showing is how common it is and that it afflicts everyone. False memory or not I will always believe that I went to that Bug Museum in 1st grade.
Thean, Tara. “Remember That? No You Don’t. Study Shows False Memories Afflict Us All.” TIME. 19 NOV 2013: n. page. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. <http://science.time.com/2013/11/19/remember-that-no-you-dont-study-shows-false-memories-afflict-us-all/>.