Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A history of memory

I was sitting high on my father’s shoulders, peering across the crowds at the opening of the local swimming pool, my dress had rosebuds embroidered on it and I was feeling grumpy. Perhaps I was three, the memory is crystal clear, but is it an authentic memory, or has it been helped by the family snapshot of this very moment?...

....So my psychologist friends say there’s no way that this can be a memory because it’s too early. That memories from before say, three years of age are not retained, so what you remember of that earlier period is constructed. But other psychologists say well, you know, we’re changing our sense of early childhood and memory and you know that’s possible that you could remember this.

My mother with her own memory of my childhood said I was six months old when I was playing with this particular toy—which I find implausible because I don’t think any baby could manipulate this particular toy at this age—so that’s her false memory.

It’s interesting because so many different claims about what you can remember and how you can remember and how you would ever confirm the validity of a particular memory come into play....