Wednesday, 7 May 2014

7. Memories: What is your earliest one?

My earliest memory was when I was a toddler. I was in my room and I could see a warm bright thing in my room. I had never see it before and wondered if I should get closer to it but decided not too because it was too hot. After I looked at it for a bit, I decided to go outside to my mum . She was outside talking to a woman who was about to leave. The warm thing that I had seen was a fire.  Mum was babysitting and the naughty child had stolen a lighter from his mother and had started the fire. Luckily, it was only a small blaze but it left a burnt patch on the carpet which was left there for many years. It was only when I was eleven when we finally got the carpet replaced.

Who knows whether that’s a real memory because false memories can be made from people relating childhood stories to you. The burnt patch was a reminder of what had happened and mum related that story to me a few times. I learnt about false memories from an incident that happened to a famous child pyschologist, Jean Piaget. He related the story about when he was almost kidnapped as a baby:

"I can still see, most clearly, the following scene, in which I believed until I was about fifteen. I was sitting in my pram, which my nurse was pushing in the Champs Elysees, when a man tried to kidnap me. I was held in by the strap fastened round me while my nurse bravely tried to stand between me and the thief. She received various scratches and I can still see vaguely those on her face. Then a crowd gathered, a policeman with a cloak and a white baton came up, and the man took to his heels. I can still see the whole scene, and can even place it near the tube station (Piaget, 1962, p.188).

When the nanny returned home with young Jean Piaget, she related the story to his parents who gave her a gold watch as a reward for her bravery. The story was told many times in his family until they received a letter from the nanny along with the gold watch. In the letter she confessed that she made the whole thing up and she had scratched up her face to make it seem more believable

I also read of an experiment about childhood memories where the subject was told stories of their childhood by relatives and friends which unbeknownst to them were made up. The test subjects believed them and some could even recall details of the incidents. Now that you know this, you could plant a false memory to your brother about how he loved to cross dress as a child. Just be sure to confess to the prank later after some time.

1 comment:

  1. Wait! I vaguely remember loving to cross dress as a child! j/k

    Actually, I was somewhat glad I did not get this question because time wise it's somewhat difficult to place. I imagine if I really gave it thought it would have been from about 2 or 3 years old, but perhaps even as old as 4 or 5. I suppose there is the alternate possibility too of having had a genuine memory but not believing it to be true? I remember my oldest brother Robert playing both Super Man and Martian Footsie with my twin Clifford and I. These were games where he would lift us up by his feet while he lay on the floor. How old was I then? I'm not entirely sure, so perhaps it was not my earliest, but certainly one of them. I'm told that Clifford and I used to shake our cribs across the room to each other when we had two separate cribs, so that we could play together. I only remember that though from what was related to me. >.<


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