Our first memories

childhood memories

Our first memories are often fractured and obscure. I myself have a dim (but vivid) memory of lying over my mother’s shoulder and being rocked. I was looking toward the kitchen, in which one yellowish light was burning. She was rocking too fast, and it bothered me.

Is it a real memory? I think so. I can’t imagine how I would have made it up.

Here’s a little story about Jean Piaget.

Piaget was one of the first and best developmental psychologists. He had a vivid memory of having been kidnapped when very young:

“I was sitting in my pram, which my nurse was pushing in the Champs Élysées, 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 short 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. When I was about fifteen my parents received a letter from my former nurse saying that she had been converted to the Salvation Army. She wanted to confess past faults, and in particular to return the watch she had been given on this occasion. She had made up the whole story, faking the scratches. I, therefore, must have heard, as a child, the account of the story, which my parents believed, and projected it into the past in the form of a visual memory.”



Does this make you wonder about your early memories?

It makes me wonder about mine.

And maybe it makes me wonder about how accurate our memories are in general.

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

2 Responses to Our first memories

  1. starproms says:

    Very interesting as always Loren. I think, as we get older, that our memories change a little. I say this because I’ve observed it with my ex mother-in-law. She used to tell a story about one of her cats (she had many over the years). Apparently this cat once fell out of an upstairs window, but didn’t die on landing, even though it was a sheer drop to the ground. Over the years the name of the cat changed in the telling. The story started off with one cat, but ended at the final telling, with another.

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