False memories are memories we have that we think are true, but are actually made up stories. They are so seemingly real that many times we don’t even know they are false. They can be memories events or experiences that happened to us. Normally, they are planted into our minds through stories told by friends and family about our past.
Over Spring break, I traveled to Florida to visit my aunt and uncle who just recently moved there this past Fall. My grandparents and cousins were all there for a few days as well, so we decided to have a family dinner one night because we would not all be together again for a while. We went out to dinner at a restaurant by the ocean and caught up with one another. My grandmother is getting pretty old, she is about 85 right now and every time we have family gatherings she insists on telling elaborate stories about when my mom and uncle were growing up.
This time, at dinner she began to explain how my uncle used to play ice hockey. She talked about how he played from age 10 to about 15 and she went into great detail about the uniforms of the teams he played on, what number he was, who his friends on the team were and the parents who were part of her carpool ring that helped take him to and from practice. Everyone sat and listened as she went on and on about this ice hockey phase of my uncles life. At the end, when she was done speaking, my uncle chimed in and explained that he never actually played ice hockey.
My grandmother explained in the story that he was 10-15 years old, a time where he would most certainly remember playing. Apparently she told this story so many times and made up so many details that she actually believes it is true. She believes her memories of my uncle playing ice hockey for 5 years are real, when in fact they are completely imagined. I am not exactly how my grandmother implanted these false memories into her own mind, but she did and there is really no convincing her otherwise. This experience I had over break exemplified the false memory phenomenon perfectly.