The things we hold most dear, and even the most tragic events in our lives present us with undeniably vivid memories. The memories that shape us are too profound to be forgotten, right?
Take Mary, as an example. She definitely remembers going to the seaside with her dad eight years ago. She remembers the warm sun on her back as she struggled to stop her feet sinking into the vast miles of golden sand. It was a long and eventful expedition, that day, with a collection of wonderful discoveries that managed to make a lasting impact in her mind.
Mary’s father can just about recall the same day. The way he remembers it, it was a mild day, nothing too special, in fact, a bit windy. The seaside was a small area not far from where he worked, with coarse brownish sand.
Though this is just a random example, it illustrates simply the flaws of memory, as does this article :
The problem with memory, especially following trauma, is that humans are developed in such a way that they are able to selectively perceive things and therefore alter memories while they’re being formed. Information is not simply copied and pasted into a document called ‘memories’ in our brains, a lot of facts are omitted and emotion has a huge impact on how we remember things too.
This is because the hippocampus, in the brain, is responsible for processing long term memories as well as emotional response.
Emotional impact on memory is so overwhelming that it shapes the way memories are made in each individual’s brain. Dissociating from the situation while the trauma is occurring can even cause memories to become ‘lost’ and ‘blurred’, so much so, that a person is unable to continuously recall the events of the memory but instead feels the emotions associated with it without reason or meaning.
Post-traumatic stress disorder proves that memory can be unreliable. Scientific author, David DiSalvo says that “Our memories are wrong at least as often as they are right.”
I think that memory and the idea of knowledge through memory is complex. The fact that emotion has such a huge impact on memory also opens up to the concept of memory manipulation, which, to me, is just as scary as it is exciting. The idea that if we are aware of what type of memories can be made through the stimulation of trauma or other emotions is very interesting but could obviously be misused.
In my opinion, memory is very susceptible, also very personal, so what one person thinks they know, (based on memory) will be different from another persons’ knowledge of the same event and ultimately different from the truth. Also, I think that it is crucial to note that PTSD is just one of the reasons why memory can’t be the only way of knowing things; if it was, our knowledge would be very limited and mostly incorrect. I believe that memory isn’t all bad though and is vital in the development of more detailed or extended knowledge.
The article mentioned above definitely got me thinking about the credibility of memory, I was also interested in and inspired by these sites (below) :