Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Should You Believe Everything You Remember?

Should you believe everything you remember?

You see, in therapy we do a lot of memory-making. Remembering events or images of the past.

I've always noticed that some things tend to cloud the accuracy of our memory.

My patient, Sharon, once recalled her childhood memories during session. She said that her mother would always hit her when having lower grades in school.

Testing, I suggested that she's always being hit by her Mom with a belt. She nodded and said that the belt would always strike her legs.

When I called her Mom to join in the session, it turned out that her Mom never used a belt. She only used her hands to punish her.

Sharon later corroborated Mom's detail to be the true account. My "social suggestion" seemed to had unpacked a blind spot in the memory.

Memory is imperfect. It can be corrupted. Emotion, distraction, or threat can affect the way we remember things.

Psychologist Julia Shaw, author of "The Memory Illusion," writes that we need to exercise caution when "consulting your mental pictures of the past."

How do you know if your memories are inaccurate, fictional, or imaginary?

Shaw says, "The only truly reliable form of corroboration is hard evidence, like photos, emails, and social media posts that document past events."

Well, I think, there could be more.

But here's a whole point: Be careful of your own account and recollections. Memory imperfection or corruption affects all humans.