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Question about false memories


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Are false memories a common occurrence and how often do they affect people?
Is it possible for someone's entire life, or a good portion of it, to be a false memory? Have there been cases of this ever happening?

Thanks.

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Are false memories a common occurrence and how often do they affect people?

Is it possible for someone's entire life, or a good portion of it, to be a false memory? Have there been cases of this ever happening?

Thanks.

I don't quite understand what you are saying. You either remember something or you don't at a particular time. As for having a false memory, it's not false until can prove it to yourself that it is.

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Factseeker - A false memory is a concept in psychology wherein somebody "remembers" something that never actually happened (whether that false memory is implanted there by someone else, or simply generated within the mind of the person doing the remembering). Your reply above suggests your not familiar with this concept and maybe shouldn't be trying to answer the OPs question given this.

 

 

Marloo - In many respects, false memories afflict us all. I think it's important to realize that memories themselves are never entirely accurate. An argument could be made that ALL memories are in some form or fashion "false" due to the way they are generated and the way our brains work. With that said, false memories come in different "intensities" or "strengths," and some "falsities" are pretty innocuous whereas others are pretty blatant.

 

For example, I might falsely remember that Scarlett Johanson was in a movie when it was actually Kira Knightley, or I might falsely remember that Scarlett Johanson gave me her phone number one night at a pub while I was tipsy... These are both types of false memories, but they're obviously different in important ways. One is innocuous and common, the other more blatant and without any basis in reality whatsoever.

 

Our memory is not an exact copy of the world or the events that happened, they're just an approximation... and the validity of that approximation is dependent largely on our current state when we're trying to recall it (are we tired when trying to remember this thing? are busy or stressed? are we trying to remember something else important, or studying for a test? ... all of these things can impact the ability to recall). Sometimes, our memories of things also evolve and change over time... even incredibly pertinent facts... "was she wearing a blue shirt or a black shirt?" We tend to alter our memories retroactively to align with various narratives or information we hear from others in our social group and we do this to avoid conflict in our minds, so persistence versus inconsistency in memories over time must also be considered.

 

Memory in our brains is not like memory in a computer. It's not an exact set of code or a precise location of electrons, but instead a pattern of activation and a network of connections in the nervous system. Memory instead is like a complex intertwined jumble of emotions, sights, smells, sounds, points of interest, things that stand out and are easily remembered, and many other things.

 

So, to answer your question, yes. It's not only possible for a "good portion of someone's life to be a false memory," it's common.

 

Below is a quick primer article with some additional links and videos embedded within that may help elaborate on what I tried to share above. Cheers.

 

http://science.time.com/2013/11/19/remember-that-no-you-dont-study-shows-false-memories-afflict-us-all/

Edited by iNow
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Are false memories a common occurrence and how often do they affect people?

Is it possible for someone's entire life, or a good portion of it, to be a false memory? Have there been cases of this ever happening?

Thanks.

 

Yes. Consider the brain like a hard drive with data that corrupts over time. Yes. How much do you remember about your life between ages 7 and 10?

 

Nothing is remembered exactly the way things happened. All memories are false. Someone could argue about savants or those with alleged eidetic memory. However, I strongly doubt those people have an exact memory of things that happened. I guess this issue gets into identities. If you could recall the exact brain state you had at that space-time event, then it would be perfect recall. But then that contradicts, because during that space-time event that you're attempting to recall, you weren't taking effort to recall that space-time event at the time the space-time event occurred.

Edited by Genecks
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@ iNow, great response. You summarized it better than I could've.

One area of memory you didn't touch on however is memory bias. How our own point of view and beliefs bias what we remember. It is why my wife remembers that I was "angry" about things I don't recall being angry about, :lol:

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Good point, indeed. With me, my wife seems to always remember herself as being right and me as being wrong. I've not yet been able to successfully convince her that her memories are quite often false. C'est la vie.

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