The Creation of Unreliable Memories

David Fraser

Senior Member.
[Admin: Thread split from paranormal discussion]

I avoid threads like this as I have had a "paranormal" experience. If you don't mind I will change names.
I was quite young (17, nearly 18) and a newly qualified medic and out on patrol in Northern Ireland. We walked around a corner and, bang, the point guy went down. We took positions, but if you know Belfast there can be thousands of shooter points. It was a trap, we all knew it. Pve idiot here decided to run for for it, I was the medic and I wanted to save my friend. What followed was as massive BOOOOOMMM.

My memory is entirely different to what I could have seen. I remember laying on the floor, but I remember Sgt Jones and Cpl Smith running around. I remember getting up and helping the guys. But I didnt. Apparently I got up walked a while and collapsed due to the 6 inch piece of shrapnel in my head. I had helped, but my mind had warped my reality.
 
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jaydeehess

Senior Member.
I avoid threads like this as I have had a "paranormal" experience. If you don't mind I will change names.
I was quite young (17, nearly 18) and a newly qualified medic and out on patrol in Northern Ireland. We walked around a corner and, bang, the point guy went down. We took positions, but if you know Belfast there can be thousands of shooter points. It was a trap, we all knew it. Pve idiot here decided to run for for it, I was the medic and I wanted to save my friend. What followed was as massive BOOOOOMMM.

My memory is entirely different to what I could have seen. I remember laying on the floor, but I remember Sgt Jones and Cpl Smith running around. I remember getting up and helping the guys. But I didnt. Apparently I got up walked a while and collapsed due to the 6 inch piece of shrapnel in my head. I had helped, but my mind had warped my reality.
That's hardly "paramormal*" in the sense of the OP. Your brain continued on in a well rehearsed mode that your training had ingrained in you. You saw, in your mentally befuddled state, what you wanted to see.
 

David Fraser

Senior Member.
That's hardly "paramormal*" in the sense of the OP. Your brain continued on in a well rehearsed mode that your training had ingrained in you. You saw, in your mentally befuddled state, what you wanted to see.
I wont argue. But when I awoke in the hospital for the debrief I gave information I could not physically have seen. I was apparently the first one blown unconscious and thrown a few yards away by the blast. I remember waking in Musgrave Park hospital and describing events physically I could not have seen. Maybe you are correct and my mind has built a construct however..
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I wont argue. But when I awoke in the hospital for the debrief I gave information I could not physically have seen. I was apparently the first one blown unconscious and thrown a few yards away by the blast. I remember waking in Musgrave Park hospital and describing events physically I could not have seen. Maybe you are correct and my mind has built a construct however..

Your memory of your recollection might also be suspect. At what point was it written down? Can you read it now?

You might remember remembering something, when you actually remembered something else. The actual memory is long gone, but you have a recollection of remembering something, so you fill in a little? Tricky subject.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I recently read a news story about an oil pipe bursting. I recognised the location as somewhere my wife and I had gone to some publishing industry do. I looked at the location in Goggle maps to see if the venue might have been damaged, and I remembered getting a bit lost, I had a vague memory of standing around with a beer ....

Then I remember I'd never actually gone there. My wife went there by herself, but I'd previously scoped out the directions in Google Street View, so I felt like I had been there - I recognised the buildings as if I'd driven up the street, and I'd overlapped the memory another event that I'd been to, where I was standing around with the beer, and welded it on top of this fake memory.

I caught the false memory as it was forming in my mind. But had I not caught it - like if I'd got distracted, then this recollection of a false memory would have become a "real" memory to me.
 

JesseCuster

Senior Member
I was once recollecting with old school friends about an event that took place one day when we skipped school just before the summer holidays on our last year. A friend who wasn't present at the event got involved in the conversation and started "reminiscing" about the event. Myself and others pointed out that he wasn't there but he insisted he was because he remembered it. I had to show him the photos I had of the occasion to convince him he wasn't there. I had photos that showed everyone else who was there and no sign of him in any of them. Turned out he'd obviously heard the story told enough times over the years that he incorporated it into his own mind as a "memory" of something for which he was present.

Our memories can be strange and unreliable at the best of times.
 

David Coulter

Senior Member.
There's unconscious, then there's comatose. It possible to still see and retain a memory when unconscious. Surgery patients under general anesthesia have reported conversations between the OR staff.

My brother was put in an induced coma for 10 days a few years ago. He definitely had memories of things, like the fact that my wife and I were there even though we lived in another part of the US. The ICU nurses told people to talk as if he was conscious and to purposefully engage him in the "first person". They said that people in that state have some level of consciousness and that the "first person" conversations reduced trauma when being brought out of the coma.
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
I was once recollecting with old school friends about an event that took place one day when we skipped school just before the summer holidays on our last year. A friend who wasn't present at the event got involved in the conversation and started "reminiscing" about the event. Myself and others pointed out that he wasn't there but he insisted he was because he remembered it. I had to show him the photos I had of the occasion to convince him he wasn't there. I had photos that showed everyone else who was there and no sign of him in any of them. Turned out he'd obviously heard the story told enough times over the years that he incorporated it into his own mind as a "memory" of something for which he was present.

Our memories can be strange and unreliable at the best of times.
Had a similar thing happen to me. I had to skip a particularly racaous party that all my friends attended. The next week when I got back, there were so many stories about it that I could picture myself there. It actually seemed like I had been there though I knew I wasn't.
I never believed I had been there but in this case I had people start every story with " too bad you weren't there" or similar. I wonder how I'd have remembered it years later if I hadn't those reinforcing indications that I wasn't there.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Classic Example:

Ira Glass
Which brings us to our last couple, Robert and Tamar. They also have a story that gets repeated in their house that has been the source of a small difference in interpretation between them. It's a story they both tell. Though him more than her, you get feeling. They don't tell the story the same way. And we will start with her version of the story.

Tamar Lewin
The first thing you need to know about this story is that I am totally celebrity blind, just completely. So much of my life with Robert has been wandering around New York and him saying, oh, look you were sitting next to Candice Bergen. And I'd say, no I wasn't. And he's always right, and I'm always wrong. So I'm really pleased one day. I'm out all by myself in the world, and I'm on the East Side, and I'm walking down Madison Avenue. And I see someone, and I know-- me the celebrity blind person-- I know absolutely for sure, for sure that this person across the street is Jackie Kennedy. And not only is it Jackie Kennedy, but she's looking at me. And she has her hand up when I smile at her.

Ira Glass
OK, let's stop that right there. Before she gets too far, here is Robert's interpretation of the same event. Their interviews were recorded separately.

Robert Krulwich
It's a beautiful, beautiful fall day. And we're walking down Fifth Avenue. The Central Park is on our right. I just picture this very, very precisely. And we're walking along, and Tamar is distracted. She looks over her left shoulder, and she goes [SOUND OF SURPISE]. There I see, across the street, Jackie Onassis, President Kennedy's wife, and she's waving, very modestly, at Tamar.

Ira Glass
You've probably noticed the key differences already. He says that they're together. She says that she's alone. He says, next to Central Park. She says, Madison Avenue. But once she spots Jackie O, the stories fly in tandem for a while.

Tamar Lewin
She has her hand when I smile at her, and she waves at me.

Robert Krulwich
And I thought, oh my God. I didn't know that they knew each other, whatever. And I'm looking at Tamar, and Tamar's looking at Jackie Onassis.

Tamar Lewin
And I'm so excited. And I wave back sort of tentatively, but beaming, beaming, beaming. And she waves back more so. I then wave back with my whole, whole heart.

Robert Krulwich
So I'm just staring at this in wonder. And then Jackie raises her hand even more excitedly and starts sort of moving it back and forth and back and forth.

Tamar Lewin
And I'm waving, and beaming, and I'm so happy and proud.

Robert Krulwich
And in that moment, a cab pulls up alongside Jackie Onassis. And what Jackie Onassis had actually been doing is just waving for a cab. And my wife, by mistake, somehow thought that Jackie was waving at her and is feeling really stupid.

Tamar Lewin
And so I'm really, pretty humiliated.

Robert Krulwich
As am I.

Tamar Lewin
Because many people had been looking at Jackie Kennedy and many people had been looking at me making a fool of myself, waving, waving, waving, waving.

Robert Krulwich
And so we laugh about it, and we head downtown.

Ira Glass
So we laugh about it, and we head downtown. Now that is where his version of the story ends, a moment of love, a moment of togetherness. Tamar's version of the story continues. In her version, she comes home. Remember, she experienced the whole thing alone in her version. She comes home, and she tells Robert what happened to her. Weeks later, in her version, they are at somebody's house for dinner, and Robert just launches into his version of the story, the version that you just heard.

Tamar Lewin
As we leave that house, I say, you know Robert, you weren't there. And he said, "No. But I remember it, I can picture it, I can see it so clearly." And I say, "But you weren't there."

Robert Krulwich
She says that I wasn't there. Which is astonishing to me. I mean, this is like I can feel this on my skin. I have told this story with such vividness because I remember it so vividly. I just remember things. Like things, like the way the sun was catching leaves. I remember turning around. I remember the intake of breath and the surprise. I remember all the little things going on in my mind . How do they know each other? Oh my God. She said, I wasn't there. I was never there. But she told it to me, and I, just simply, sort of like Ghengis Khan or Alexander the Great I occupied it. Like it was real estate that I wanted to be part of, so I just marched in and became part of it.

Ira Glass
Do you believe her, that you weren't in it?

Robert Krulwich
Yeah. Yeah. Because I live, as all married people do, in a courthouse. And the jury, upon deliberating about this, said, this particular witness has proven over the years a complete-- and she is very, very believable. A credible witness has testified. And you sir? Over the years, we have formed our own opinions about you. Judgment to the wife.

Tamar Lewin
So now it's become a shared story.

Ira Glass
Wait, wait, and he'll tell it, and in his version, he's in the story?

Tamar Lewin
In this version he has his view of what happened, but he says, but actually Tamar says I wasn't there

Content from External Source
 

David Fraser

Senior Member.
I am feeling a little uncomfortable with this. As a psychiatric nurse and a counsellor I am well aware of false memory. However my recollection of the event was as an observer rather than a participant. I was able to describe actions happening around the corner. I had my first debrief 72 hours after the incident but most of that time was in surgery or unconscious.

Debriefs are taxing and thorough and the officer conducting mine commented a number of times that I was not even in a position to see x,y or z.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I am feeling a little uncomfortable with this. As a psychiatric nurse and a counsellor I am well aware of false memory. However my recollection of the event was as an observer rather than a participant. I was able to describe actions happening around the corner. I had my first debrief 72 hours after the incident but most of that time was in surgery or unconscious.

Debriefs are taxing and thorough and the officer conducting mine commented a number of times that I was not even in a position to see x,y or z.

What are you uncomfortable about? That it seems like a paranormal experience? That the thread is suggesting it was a false memory?

Not trying to psych you out or anything, but is your memory of the debriefing guaranteed? Is there any way of verifying any of this now, or are you going on the memory of a memory?

Can you talk to someone who you told this story to decades ago, and ask what they remember of what you told them?
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
Nothing earth-shattering, but two or three times I've had reasonably clear (if vague)
memories of doing particular actions at particular locations…
only to later decide that said memory was entirely impossible.

In each situation I now believe that I simply had an exceptionally realistic dream…
and the narrative just kind of slipped into the "memories" pile before being tagged as "dream."

What's slightly unnerving is that only the fact that I absolutely could not have been doing that thing,
in that place, at that time, made it clear that I was "remembering" something which
had never happened. Does that mean other dreams of mine could possibly be masquerading as "memories" ?
I reckon...
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This topic is relevant to debunking (and hence qualifies for an "about the topic" exemption) because so often stories are based on recollections, and recollections are often flawed. So an understanding of the ways in which memory can be unreliable is important for debunkers.

I find my memory increasingly unreliable with age. I did an interview a few days ago about the creation of the first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game. Things that consumed months of my life back in 1998 are now just a bunch of unreliable stories recreated from the infrequently visited storehouse of memories, where they sit and decay. I made mistakes and caught and corrected them. But I could almost see the new memories being formed before me.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
unreliable memory is an important topic in debunking (and police work) but I don't necessarily think it's fair to assume David's memory is false.
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
I did an interview a few days ago about the creation of the first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game. Things that consumed months of my life back in 1998 are now just a bunch of unreliable stories recreated from the infrequently visited storehouse of memories, where they sit and decay. I made mistakes and caught and corrected them. But I could almost see the new memories being formed before me.
And I'd heard that Rand Paul and Shia LaBeouf actually created that game...
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
unreliable memory is an important topic in debunking (and police work) but I don't necessarily think it's fair to assume David's memory is false.

I'm not assuming anything - however if you are unconscious, then it seems highly unlikely that you can see things happening round the corner. It seems more likely that some memory is faulty. It's a basic choice of an out of body experience, contrary to all known science, or a created memory, which is contrary to almost nothing.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I'm not assuming anything - however if you are unconscious, then it seems highly unlikely that you can see things happening round the corner. It seems more likely that some memory is faulty. It's a basic choice of an out of body experience, contrary to all known science, or a created memory, which is contrary to almost nothing.
he was up for a bit. I think he heard it and filled in the images, either way it's a 'paranormal' thread. (didn't we just have this 'we make people feel dismissed and like theyre stupid, talk? :confused: )
 

Jason

Senior Member
I am feeling a little uncomfortable with this. As a psychiatric nurse and a counsellor I am well aware of false memory. However my recollection of the event was as an observer rather than a participant. I was able to describe actions happening around the corner. I had my first debrief 72 hours after the incident but most of that time was in surgery or unconscious.

Debriefs are taxing and thorough and the officer conducting mine commented a number of times that I was not even in a position to see x,y or z.
You stated that you had a 6 inch gash in your head from shrapnel, and that after the boom you remembered walking around to try to help your friends, but that you quickly collapsed. Could it be you walked more than you though you did, but your memory of the event differed due to trauma...

Could also be a case of; "Mind Awake, Body Asleep" effect. Didn't you also mention that since the accident you see things differently than you used to.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
he was up for a bit. I think he heard it and filled in the images, either way it's a 'paranormal' thread. (didn't we just have this 'we make people feel dismissed and like theyre stupid, talk? :confused: )

I'm not dismissing anything. I'm discussing the range of possibilities.

There are many ways to for a memory to be created. "Heard it and filled in the images" is one, "heard about it, and filled in" is another, "extrapolated, based on what was known", is another. There are several possibilities.
 

Jason

Senior Member
I'm not dismissing anything. I'm discussing the range of possibilities.

There are many ways to for a memory to be created. "Heard it and filled in the images" is one, "heard about it, and filled in" is another, "extrapolated, based on what was known", is another. There are several possibilities.
He also could've heard people, friends, and associates discussing what happened while he was unconscious in the hospital.

Edit: Just out of curiosity where exactly did you have your brain injury. Was in the front, side, or back of your head, and by 6" gash, did you sustain actually brain injury or only injury to your skull...
 
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jaydeehess

Senior Member.
I am feeling a little uncomfortable with this. As a psychiatric nurse and a counsellor I am well aware of false memory. However my recollection of the event was as an observer rather than a participant. I was able to describe actions happening around the corner. I had my first debrief 72 hours after the incident but most of that time was in surgery or unconscious.

Debriefs are taxing and thorough and the officer conducting mine commented a number of times that I was not even in a position to see x,y or z.
Might as we'll weigh in on this too.

Your mind did play the trick of having you perform the duties that your training had ingrained in you, yet if i follow what you have said, you didn't, couldn't have physically done so.You had run to aid the fallen man obviously indicating great dedication and ingrained, training response, to your duties.
It stands to reason that you also knew or expected that your compatriots would do the same. While you may not have had a visual of the following events around the corner, would it be possible that you would be able to hear them. I assume there was much shouting, communication of where the threat was coming from, orders to others about moving, attacking, flanking to counter that threat plus your own expectation of what these men would be doing as a result of their training. The mind seeks desperately to put order to sensory stimuli and does so mainly by using past experience.
So its not particularly odd that you would "remember" events you did not actually see occur.
 

Miles Bloomer

New Member
[Admin: Thread split from paranormal discussion]

I avoid threads like this as I have had a "paranormal" experience. If you don't mind I will change names.
I was quite young (17, nearly 18) and a newly qualified medic and out on patrol in Northern Ireland. We walked around a corner and, bang, the point guy went down. We took positions, but if you know Belfast there can be thousands of shooter points. It was a trap, we all knew it. Pve idiot here decided to run for for it, I was the medic and I wanted to save my friend. What followed was as massive BOOOOOMMM.

My memory is entirely different to what I could have seen. I remember laying on the floor, but I remember Sgt Jones and Cpl Smith running around. I remember getting up and helping the guys. But I didnt. Apparently I got up walked a while and collapsed due to the 6 inch piece of shrapnel in my head. I had helped, but my mind had warped my reality.

What you have described is consistent with a neurological phenomenon known as ''confabulation'', better known as ''false memory syndrome''. Memory is often a discrete and diffuse aspect of the human mind. It is incorrectly likened to a video recorder - in reality, the human memory ''records'' what is perceived and attempts to make ''sense'' of the surroundings with limited compiling. Psychological distress has been associated with confabulation or false memory syndrome. Memory is hardly an infallible aspect.

Further reading:

http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2008/06/13/anatomy-of-a-false-memory/
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Confabulation
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
What you have described is consistent with a neurological phenomenon known as ''confabulation'', better known as ''false memory syndrome''. Memory is often a discrete and diffuse aspect of the human mind. It is incorrectly likened to a video recorder - in reality, the human memory ''records'' what is perceived and attempts to make ''sense'' of the surroundings with limited compiling. Psychological distress has been associated with confabulation or false memory syndrome. Memory is hardly an infallible aspect.

Further reading:

http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2008/06/13/anatomy-of-a-false-memory/
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Confabulation
One aspect of our brains trying to make sense of visual input is the ability of humans to "see" a human face. :) This image to the left, is very much not a human face but we can all perceive it as such because we are preprogrammed to make sense of certain arrangements of images as being human faces. A dog will likely never consider smiliey face as looking at all human.
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
Here is an interesting OP-Ed on why memory is often unreliable

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/o..._th_20141202&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=25300769

Overconfidence in memory could emerge from our daily experience: We recall events easily and often, at least if they are important to us, but only rarely do we find our memories contradicted by evidence, much less take the initiative to check if they are right. We then rely on confidence as a signal of accuracy — in ourselves and in others. It’s no accident that Oprah Winfrey’s latest best seller is called “What I Know For Sure,” rather than “Some Things That Might Be True.”
Content from External Source
 

BombDr

Senior Member.
Two quick anecdotes:

1.
The first one was from the Massereene Barracks shooting in Antrim, N Ireland in 2009, in which I was the 2IC of one of the Squadrons there. Long story short: The Regiment was waiting to fly to Afghanistan and the flight was delayed so some of the lads ordered a pizza to be delivered to the gate. A car arrived with a Polish immigrant pizza delivery chap in it, but there was an error in the order, so another delivery vehicle was dispatched with the missing pizza. Just as the lads were taking delivery of the second delivery the Real IRA ambushed them, killing two and injuring two other soldiers and both delivery men.

One of the wounded soldiers fell to the floor and crawled around the front of both vehicles and climbed into the second vehicle and lay on top of the injured delivery driver. This vehicle was red in colour. The gunman was finishing off the two dead soldiers on the ground and came forward to murder the injured soldier and delivery driver in the vehicle, but just wounded them further before making their getaway.

Now, the interesting points are that this soldier is firstly convinced he lay on top of the Polish delivery driver, when in fact he was with the local lad, and secondly he is convinced that the vehicle was blue. Even after watching the CCTV footage he still believes this. Not quite a 'paranormal' event like David's, but certainly an example how the brain works on odd ways sometime. Also, if this turned into a conspiracy theory (Alex Jones tried to make it one) no doubt this soldier's recollection of what happened would be seized upon as an example of a cover up.

2.
I have been treated for PTSD from earlier adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and this also has effected my memory. There are several reasons why this might be and those suggested are I have blocked out some details with amnesia being a protective measure, or that the combination of adrenaline, fear and the need to maintain composure causes sensory overload. This can occur for example with student parachutists where they don't remember leaving the aircraft. I don't know either way, but someone asked me to contribute to a book they were writing about EOD in Afghanistan, and I declined for two reasons, the first being that I did not want to open some of those boxes again, secondly as I felt my memory of these events is unsafe and unreliable, and consequently I could be accused of making stuff up.

The brain certainly does do weird things....
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
I have never experienced a situation that could lead to PTSD. However I note that significant events in our lives get more treatment in our brains.
I spent nine months at a remote Arctic weather station that had a compliment of between eight and twelve people over that time period. (Eight over Christmas, twelve in March when Radarsat researchers came in) When I landed I replaced the electronic tech that was leaving on the same plane I came in on. As that plane left it struck me that for the first time in my life(I was 24 y/o) I had no on site back up. Every electronic device was my responsibility. I could rtty a request for info or guidance but no other trained person nearby.(600 miles to another station).
As I type this, I am now 58 years old, I can still feel that twinge in my lower spine as my responsibility hit me. I can still see the back of the C130 as it lifted off the runway and was soon out of sight. I recall how I then turned and looked at the collection of buildings that made up the station. I recall the colour of the buildings, their metal roofing, the light covering of snow on the tundra, the light breeze from the other east and the smell of the aircraft exhaust lingering as I walked to my truck. I had no fear of death or injury, no pressing and immediate concerns, yet just this slight trepidation caused a solid memory.

Now, if I imagine a situation in which my close friends are shot and shooters are still firing at my location and I desparetly want to help my buddies AND not get shot myself,,,or some other similar horrific situation,,, that the feelings are not going to pass anytime soon.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
As I type this, I am now 58 years old, I can still feel that twinge in my lower spine as my responsibility hit me. I can still see the back of the C130 as it lifted off the runway and was soon out of sight. I recall how I then turned and looked at the collection of buildings that made up the station. I recall the colour of the buildings, their metal roofing, the light covering of snow on the tundra, the light breeze from the other east and the smell of the aircraft exhaust lingering as I walked to my truck.

I wonder though, even though those memories are incredibly vivid, are they accurate? 34 years is a very long time for a memory to stay intact. They grow with the telling, and the only way they say in your mind is by the brain re-telling them to itself.

Is there any way you could check any of those old memories? Any photographs that you've not looked at for decades? Anyone you might ask what colour the buildings were?
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Now, if I imagine a situation in which my close friends are shot and shooters are still firing at my location and I desparetly want to help my buddies AND not get shot myself,,,or some other similar horrific situation,,, that the feelings are not going to pass anytime soon.
the feelings aren't going to pass anytime soon, but I imagine if you are in a highly stressful situation (esp getting shot at) your brain isn't even originally registering the color of buildings or whether it was sunny or not. Why would it?
 

BombDr

Senior Member.
the feelings aren't going to pass anytime soon, but I imagine if you are in a highly stressful situation (esp getting shot at) your brain isn't even originally registering the color of buildings or whether it was sunny or not. Why would it?


You are right. we did a quick experiment on the small arms trainer (SAT) which is a glorified video game used by the Army for judgemental training. Basically it is a large screen with rifles attached firing lasers and powered by compressed gas for the recoil etc.

We sent out two soldiers to run about 300m, then straight in to the scenario, which was patrolling through Iraq (filmed in Cyprus) and the patrol is ambushed. The soldiers are told to react accordingly and brief firefight ensues. Scenario is over in about five minutes.

We then question them about what happened and record their answers. How many enemy? What colour was the vehicles,? How many shots did you fire? what direction did the puff of smoke come from? etc

Then the film is replayed with their shots, hits and misses recorded.

Generally speaking they over estimate the numbers of enemy and under-estimate how many shots they fired.

Is this mis-remembering or is this how the human head functions under stress?

Its also relevant here, as how many CTs have put great weight on Barry Jennings, 'Pull it", Oswald's rifle etc?
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
My own anecdote on vividness vs. accuracy:

I used to have a very vivid memory of an incident of misbehavior when I was a child that my mother told pretty much everybody about, and even threw in my face regularly when I misbehaved as I got older. I was 24 years old and still hearing about that incident when I got in a car accident. The story is, I was around three and was putting finger prints on a freshly cleaned window, and she yelled at me. I stopped and apologized, but as she left the room I shouted, "Hey, mom!" and as soon as she looked, put both hands on the window and left nice big hand prints. As punishment I had to stand there with both hands on the window for an hour. This was a Michigan winter and a single pane window, so my hands were numb almost to the elbow by the end of that hour. I remembered this very well for years.

Really, I still do remember it quite vividly, but in a different context. Because here's the weird thing. After she died and I went through her journals and letters (she wrote a lot, always talking about writing a book but never had anything worth publishing), I found out that original incident never happened with me - it happened years earlier, with a much older brother who died before I was born. I knew about him, of course, and heard many stories about him, but I can not remember this particular event being a story about him, only about me. Yet there it was, on paper in a journal from eleven years before I was born. She'd repeated it often enough that I believed it, and the Patented Mom Brand Guilt Trip left enough shame behind that I built up this whole explanation around it - why I did it, what I was thinking, even what I was doing in the first place.


Now, this is really silly compared to the stuff BombDr and jaydeehess are talking about, but I think it's kind of the same thing. Those memories that you revisit a lot - whether they're traumas, celebrations, watersheds, or somebody just won't ever let you forget it - can get built up in your mind to be more vivid and more complete.
 

occams rusty scissor

Senior Member.
Generally speaking they over estimate the numbers of enemy and under-estimate how many shots they fired.

Is this mis-remembering or is this how the human head functions under stress?

I'd say a bit of both? Stressful situation bought on by the overwhelming feeling of dealing with a sudden contact that you weren't prepared for, but coupled with the expectation that as a professional you wont be overwhelmed, have controlled your reaction and therefore not fired as much as you did. Or perhaps just the fact that by concentrating directly on the threat, actions taken by the threat, attitude towards self preservation etc. that being able to retain excessive information like number of shots fired/mags used and such just isn't retained or imprinted on memory, unless there's a specific stimulus i.e. remembering that you ran dry at a certain point.
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
I wonder though, even though those memories are incredibly vivid, are they accurate? 34 years is a very long time for a memory to stay intact. They grow with the telling, and the only way they say in your mind is by the brain re-telling them to itself.

Is there any way you could check any of those old memories? Any photographs that you've not looked at for decades? Anyone you might ask what colour the buildings were?
Indeed that was my point.
The view from airstrip, of the station was one I saw frequently as we got a plane or two every month and most of us always went down to unload supplies and sent out the mail bag.
The buildings were reddish and green metal siding. Yes I have the photos.

Now, watching the plane until it disappeared, that's another story. That would have taken at least 15 minutes more likely 30. I may also feel the east wind only because that is the direction I recall the plane taking off which might simlly come from the knowledge that that was the direction to its home base at Resolute Bay.
Also, did I drive the truck back up to the station? I really believe so but I had been on that base for all if an hour. I recall driving the outgoing tech to the plane after he gave me a whirlwind tour of the radio room, tx site, and the upper air research building, and driving back.
Is it entirely accurate? Dunno, its an hour, a fairly intense one at that.
 
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