The brain works in odd ways. The article entitled “Creating False Memories”, by Elizabeth F. Loftus, is an article about just that. The studies included in the article are proof that the brain can twist certain memories in order to fit them to a suggestion made by someone else; or a suggestion can create entire false memories. Some people are more susceptible than others to “remember” a false memory when a suggestion is made, but it is likely that anyone could “remember” a false memory.
The article seemed to point out that older memories that would be less clear to begin with, such as childhood memories, are easier for suggestions to twist than a memory that happened in recent years. While reading the section subtitled “Imagination Inflation”, it became obvious that even one that was reading the article, if one took the example suggestions given in the article, then it would be incredibly tempting to remember things that were imagined. One would realize that it was only imagination at work, but if asked a few days later what was remembered about it, it would be easy to believe that it was a real memory.
How can one truly distinguish between memory and imagination? Then again, is the memory of an act of imagination not a true memory in itself? There are many ways that one could be confused on this subject, because technically, memories of imagined things can be true memories. Memory and imagination are so closely related that it would be very difficult to tell the difference between the two. What was especially incredible about this article was the section subtitled “Impossible Memories. ” Individuals actually remembered aspects from their second day of life, even though this is medically impossible.
It is common knowledge that people cannot begin to form memories that would be remembered into adulthood until the age of two or three. Yet, given a suggestion, people will just run with it. It could be the “imagination inflation” theory at work, and it probably is. Many people are influenced daily about what happens when children are born or how children are taken care of in a hospital right after birth. People hear stories, see the scenario in television and film, and perhaps have been there when a sibling was born.
However, can certain people actually remember their births or shortly thereafter? After all, there are exceptions to every rule. This article made for fascinating reading. The studies used are impressive and it makes sense. It is hard to believe that psychiatrists can, either knowingly or unknowingly, give their patients suggestions in order to create false memories. How many people are really aware of what others say to them or how it might affect them? The article is compelling and it makes one think twice about how their brain works.
It makes one think about how many of the “memories” one believes are true memories from childhood are actually true memories or false memories. Where childhood is concerned, most individuals have to rely on parents or relatives to relay stories, but what if those memories are inaccurate? This is the point of the article. The human brain is so complicated and delicate that if one is not careful who knows what kind of damage can be done. – Loftus, Elizabeth F. “Creating False Memories. ” Scientific American. 277. 3 (September 1997): 70-75.