False Memories & Flashbulb Memories

Looking back on my childhood, it is hard to believe that the things I remember, may not be actual memories. Though it is hard to decipher what memories are real, to which ones are made up, I believe that I have false memories from my childhood. Going to the park with my Mom, my 6th birthday, playing dolls with my sister; these all seem like tangible memories, but I cannot say for sure that I remember the actual event.

When I was just 5 I was dancing around the house when I hit my head on the side of a glass coffee table. My mother was frantic. I had to go to the hospital and get stitches. I remember that day so vividly. I remember dancing around, the drive to the hospital, and even looking at my stitches after they had been implanted. But then again, the story has been told to me so many times that I may just be imagining a memory that never actually occurred.

I also remember (or believe I remember) just simple day to day activities I used to do when I was younger. Things such as hanging out with my sister and hanging out with the kids in my neighborhood. Though I think I remember this, it’s hard to believe that I would remember something so minuscule when I cannot remember what I had for breakfast the other day.

Memories are a very misunderstood topic. Because we cannot physically go into the brain and pull memories out, I guess we will never know if what we remember is truth or just a story. Also, the memories we made may or may not still be remembered. The flashbulb effect also deals with memories and how we remember them. We will never know if we have forgotten something, because it may come back to us at a different time and place.

For example, one flashbulb memory I have is my first day as a college student. I still remember exactly what I was wearing, what my classes were and where they were located. I remember how nervous I was about the huge lecture halls and how excited I was for my philosophy class. As a flashbulb memory, I will never forget my first day of college, it is one of the most vivid memories I have.

3 thoughts on “False Memories & Flashbulb Memories

  1. Jamie Tomkowicz

    The mind is such a complex things, so it’s always a mystery where some memories come from. I have a very vivid memory of me as a little girl going on the Ferris wheel for the first time. I was down the shore with my parents and we all decided to go on the ride together. The whole situation felt so real to me, and I remember it to this day. Talking with my mom years later, she told me that this memory I had wasn’t true. I wouldn’t get on the ride and kicked and screamed because I was so scared. It’s amazing that I just made this memory up when it is the complete opposite of what really happen. If the memory isn’t real, then why is it so vivid? Perhaps I made this memory up in order to believe what I wanted to happen. We repress memories all the time; I just don’t know why I would repress a memory about not going on a ride.

  2. Ashley Nicole Byerly

    I think that it’s so funny how our brain can either make up a story that never happened or believe a story that you’re told, and still think that it’s real. I like to think that I actually remember all the stories that I’ve heard about myself from when I was younger, but the reality is that I probably don’t actually remember all of them and some may even never have happened.

  3. Robin Rebecca Wein

    I too feel like I remember certain things from my childhood, but I know I remember them because my parents have told me the story so many times. When I was two years old I fell off the jungle gym on my first day of preschool. They told me how the school called my mom and I went to the hospital and got a cute little sling for my broken arm. I have no real recollection of this but I can picture the events perfectly in my mind.

    The first day of college is a huge milestone in one’s life and is a flashbulb memory in my mind too. Although I am a senior now, I remember how nervous and excited I was moving into my dorm and meeting my roommate. I remember what I was wearing and our first floor meeting. I remember the tearful goodbyes to my parents and my first day of class. It boggles my mind how fast these last four years have gone by and I know that because it was such an important day in my life that it will remain in my memory.

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