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07 May 2003 @ 01:07 pm
Phantom Memories  
Is there a term for memories that you aren't sure are real? Memories that could either come from your dreams or from your waking life? I keep finding more and more things in that category...

For example, I remember when I was about eight, I was waiting in the car with my parents as we were in a traffic jam on Highway 3, waiting to cross the Hood Canal Bridge. A uniformed man (police officer? MP?) told was going from vehicle to vehicle, telling people not to get out of their cars because there was a classified submarine going through the bridge on the surface, and we weren't allowed to look.

It didn't even occur to me until today to question that memory, even though it is patently absurd. It would be ludicrous to have somebody going around TELLING motorists how to look, especially when there are hundreds of HOUSES with good views of Hood Canal.

Now, this one example is ludicrous enough that I'm fairly certain it was from a dream, although it is faintly possible that something this stupid would happen, so I'm not completely convinced. A lot of the others are more difficult to sort out.
Zzyzxthezzyzx on May 7th, 2003 01:08 pm (UTC)
you going to ask them?
St. Sean the Amused: Shadow daemonseanb on May 7th, 2003 01:14 pm (UTC)
Who? My parents? Probably not; this one is just an example, not something I really need "solved".
Zzyzx: Rabbithezzyzx on May 7th, 2003 01:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah but I'm curious now.
Lady Doomlithera on May 7th, 2003 01:19 pm (UTC)
I have memories like that. Some of them I later remember that /I/ made up for one reason or another. Others I'm just not sure if they're real memories or dreams or something I just made up later after looking at pictures.
St. Sean the Amused: eeyoreseanb on May 7th, 2003 03:36 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one. Sometimes I get stuck in these loops where I wonder if my mind works different from the minds of everybody else around me.
Lady Doomlithera on May 7th, 2003 03:51 pm (UTC)
Heh. You and me both.
Auto-defenestration has never been this funm00t on May 7th, 2003 03:54 pm (UTC)
TW Bruhn: SkepticStyle (Apache Chiefapestyle on May 7th, 2003 03:09 pm (UTC)
Sounds similar to False Memories (I was going to put 'syndrome' there, but I don't know if it falls under that classification.)
St. Sean the Amused: parkseanb on May 7th, 2003 03:34 pm (UTC)
Interesting link. It fitw with a lot of the things I've read before about how memory works; it just makes sense that memory is this pliable when it's a highly cross-referenced store of symbols that relies on prototyping-and-modification to model events.

It still doesn't answer my question: is there a term for memories that MAY BE false?
minnesattva on May 7th, 2003 03:15 pm (UTC)
I once heard/read/saw that people can be made to remember things that didn't really happen. Experiments have been done on this. A person whose parents will vouch that they were never lost in a mall is somehow led to believe (by hypnosis, I think?) that they did indeed get lost in a mall as a young child and were helped by an elderly woman. Later they can tell the story, adding things that weren't even suggested to them--they can describe the nice old lady in detail, for instance--and are convinced that this truly happened.

It was in some other context--alien abductees can be utterly serious and still wrong, or something like that--but I thought of this when I read about your "phantom memory." I suppose it is the person's real experiences with malls and grandmothers that allow them to provide convincing details of an experience they never had, and if so maybe your brain is mixing real life with movies or dreams or whatever. Just a thought.
St. Sean the Amused: chaoseanb on May 7th, 2003 03:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, there was some discussion of those studies in the links that apestyle posted. It makes sense with regard to the way I believe memory works. It doesn't take hypnosis, just the suggestion to plant false memories. People asked to visualize something have a good chance of remembering it if asked a few weeks later.
Mahh p'tchaaprincessgeek on May 7th, 2003 04:39 pm (UTC)
As a parent, that sounds like something that I would say if we were stuck in traffic.
Just Imagine!!
kid:WHY NOT?

Sounds like one of my tricks. Then the kids start talking about submarines and quit bugging me.
Myraseattlite823 on May 8th, 2003 10:34 am (UTC)

Hmmm . .. .
That is interesting. I do remember at some point in time that we were stuck in a traffic jam on BI and there was a police officer walking from car to car, but I belive that it was from a car accident that closed the bridge. About that same time (should my memory be serving me correctly) you were telling me the story of a soviet sub that surfaced outside of Bangor. Could it be possible that those two memories were confused somehow. I do belive that you told me the story of the soviet sub at that park out by hood canal that we used to go to, and had a conversation about the stupid bridge operators who didn't detect the acent over the radio orthe funny lettering on the sub. Anywho, sounds interesting. I would love to hear some of these other memories.