Suppressed memories and the danger of them being planted.

@JenInTN (27565)
United States
November 24, 2011 5:29am CST
Ok..so my psychology class was super interesting but if I learned anything...I learned they really have no clue as to how the mind works. They have some basics and they have some common disorders, but other than that...it's out there to be found. The field of discovery is wide open. Suppressed memories is what I wanted to talk about. I read that, of course, there are memories suppressed that one can not deal with so the brain stores it away..right? OK..so there was this study done and these people were asked to recall certain memories about their childhood. Some were legit but there was one false memory given. They were asked to go home and think about their memories..come back the next day and give details. When they came back ALL of them claimed to remember the false memory but 19 out of 50 actually give details about the false memory..their minds had filled in the blanks based on what a psychologist had offered them. ALSO most people that claim to have suppressed a memory has only went through psychotherapy and found it..not remembered on their own. That strikes me as odd. SO...have you ever had a suppressed memory? What do you think about them? Are there memories so terrible they can be stored away and never accessed again? There was psychologists that claim we know when something bad happens to us and we do recall certain parts of it even when we don't want to. It usually comes back. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this!
4 people like this
11 responses
@allknowing (69455)
• India
24 Nov 11
Memories get lodged in our brain the intensity of which depends on the impact events have had in our life. Do we not sometimes say that we will never forget such and such an event rest of our life? That's it Jen. When we try to recall our childhood those memories that have had a deep impact on our life will come to the fore. But I have never experienced nor narrated a nonexistent memory. There is one possibility however and that is as children we imagine things and live those things which perhaps stay put there and come back when we recall. This applies also to those who have had a disturbed mind. A disturbed mind has hallucinations and these hallucinations become real and get lodged as memories.
4 people like this
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
Well...the nonexistent memory in the study was actually considered "planted" because they were pretty much told this happened and we want you to try and recall it. The mind apparently needs to be able to fill in the blanks and it goes to work. I also agree that as children we tend to see things differently. I can remember certain situations that as a child I didn't fully understand..but looking back...I do now. Thanks for responding.
3 people like this
@pergammano (7755)
• Canada
24 Nov 11
The body...and the pysche have "amazing fight or flight" abilities...and this I learned as many years of a paramedic! When there is physical pain/damage...the body shunts the circulatory blood to the major organs which are the life giving organs, as they are what is needed for survival..that is why the description, cold and clammy is used to define shock...as the blood has been shunted to the organs...and THEN the person vomits--reason; bodies beautiful ability to survive..get rid of foreign objects (intestine contents) so the body does not have to deal with the digesting process..all energy need for organs! This is just a simile...and so, we were taught the same thing happens to the brain...things that are impossible to deal with are shunted away..and locked up..in order for the brain to survive! A flight process! I believe horrendous memories are there...and their can be a key, or trigger!
• Canada
24 Nov 11
Guess I missed the whole jist of your discussion! Memories to me, are real...some deeply buried!
2 people like this
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
Heyya pergammano! Yes..the body is amazing and that fight or flight process is amazing. i think that "triggers" are the keys sometimes. I bet the "processes sometimes even decide when we are ready to be introduced to such memories if ever. There is still so much to learn about us. It does make me a bit uncomfortable to think that someone could have the power to plant something though. Thanks for responding!
4 people like this
@1hopefulman (32485)
• Canada
25 Nov 11
Jenn, do most people really think for themselves? Look what Hitler was able to do!
2 people like this
@derek_a (10902)
24 Nov 11
... To know how the mind works in my opinon, means to experience it working directly by self-observation and by suspending judgment. For if we analyse and judge, we are using mind to explain mind, and all we will get is more mind! I think the mind can lie so easily to its owner - in pretending it is it's owner is one point in case! In Zen practice (zazen) I just sit and oberve the way the mind has things wired together, and it can be very enlightening at times. Who is it that watches the mind? Find that out, and we can know more of the workings of the mind, not to say that the mind will like this and co-operate very much! False memory is very interesting. In Zen circles it is said that the past is no more. It is an illusion subject to our imagination, and much of the imagination will manipulate to enhance our ability to judge, and that leads to even more illusion. Yes, I have suppressed memories - we all must have thousands if we take into account that cells contain intelligence that is processed by nothing more than electrical impulses that the brain turn into images and what of genetics? Body sensations creating more images that have been passed down through the generations perhaps? Anyway, through my zazen, many memories have come back to awareness right back from before I could even walk and talk properly. It is all fascinating and strange to get to see something that you didn't know that you knew all along... But the mind is very selective I think, and also very paradoxical. Transcend paradox and I think there are more answers to be found... Enjoy! _Derek
3 people like this
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
I can see what your saying about a ton of memories being suppressed. The thing is that the mind files things away as important and unimportant sometimes too. Then there is something that happens the brain can add to a particular unimportant memory to make it important..then it is more memorable. I think the brain is an amazing thing. I can see how the mental health field can be so far off sometimes. We are all so different too. I plan on talking about the brain a few more times here. I am so interested to see what everyone thinks about certain aspects. Genetics is a definite consideration but that it also something they are still trying to determine is true. Very debatable in the psychology community. Thanks for the response Derek! You always have a way of spicing things up.
3 people like this
@derek_a (10902)
25 Nov 11
Thank you Jen.. I tend to like spiced-up and friendly controversial discussions, so I will look forward in sharing and learning more. let teacher and student disappear and learning commence. I don't know where I get it from sometimes! _Derek
1 person likes this
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
25 Nov 11
Let us learn! In this one class I took, sociology, my poor teacher had his hands full with me..LOL..I am very inquisitive and pick up very quickly on things sometimes. With me in the class he had to pick up a few extra books himself to be able to answer some of my questions...lol...he was great teacher though and said I challenged him.
1 person likes this
@1hopefulman (32485)
• Canada
24 Nov 11
Interesting discussion! I wish I could offer something but it's way out of my field. I will read the different comments and see and learn from what others have to say on the subject. You certainly take some interesting classes. All the best in your studies!
3 people like this
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
I have to say my friend that my studies have truly rocked my world in many ways..lol. I have always wanted to study psychology and I have to have a couple of classes in it for my degree anyway...perfect chance. It wasn't what I expected though..the truth is they really don't have a lot figured out. Just the basics really. I am glad to have peaked your interest here. Thanks for responding.
2 people like this
@1hopefulman (32485)
• Canada
25 Nov 11
It seems that there is yet so much more to learn about our complex brain.
1 person likes this
@EvanHunter (4028)
• United States
24 Nov 11
Very interesting discussion. I once read about a psychologist that was using hypnotism and to deal with peoples neurosis and they thought it came from past lives that the person would recall when pressed about why they had certain fears. Other psychologist said most people have no idea why they have fears they just have them and when a person is under hypnosis and pressed as to the "why" the mind will automatically create an answer from pure imagination that is as real as any vivid memory.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
Thanks! Hypnotism is a trip. There is a catch with it though...a person has to be willing to release all control for it to really work. Most people aren't willing to do that and that is one reason they can say it doesn't work on them. I know I wouldn't be able to. Anyway..the idea of the mind filling in the blanks or creating answers is an interesting part of the way it tries to work isn't it? Almost like an over active instinct or something...the fear thing. Like..we know spiders might be poisonous so we stay away from them because we instinctively try to protect ourselves...or if we fall from a certain height we might die...but the panic from the thought or the sight...seems like something is in overdrive where the instinct is concerned. Hmmm...maybe I'll write a paper on overactive instincts...LOL...I'll be a hit in the psychology community. Thanks for responding!
2 people like this
@bagarad (12747)
• Paso Robles, California
24 Nov 11
This whole discussion has made me wonder about hypnotism being used as evidence for past lives. If you are under hypnosis and are asked to describe past lives, those have been suggested to you, since the assumption you have when asked is that you have a past life to describe. Could not the mind concoct that, too, by filling in details for what was suggested might have happened? The thing is, we don't know. This is one reason I might be reluctant as a juror to accept accounts of witnesses who were questioned under hypnosis to help them remember details of an event they might have suppressed. I don't know if witnesses ever are hypnotized to help them remember things, but it appears that the mind is able to construct things that did not actually happen, as we do in our imaginations and daydreams, as well as reconstruct things that actually did.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
It is a shaky thing. The book I studied by mentioned certain ethical rules that had been applied to psychotherapy because of the fact there was so much proof that memories could be implanted. As far as the hypnosis and past lives..yes...I think that the mind can be led by certain questions without being hypnotized...it is in the power of the person leading the session as to what reactions they get. If someone is really hypnotized...they have given up all control to another.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (119865)
• Boise, Idaho
24 Nov 11
I think suppressed memories happen to most people at some time or another. Trauma and horrific things that happen and people cannot handle it so they suppress it. Some are so badly affected they disassociate or act out. Veterans come home with stress disorders. I am watching a show on Showtime called United States of Tara about a thirtyish woman with disassociate identity disorder. I have always been fascinated with this disordered. I watched the movie Sybil and read the book. I also saw All About Eve which was very interesting too. Something so horrific happened in their childhoods that they had to 'disassociate' and become another stronger character or 'alternate personality' to be able to handle the situation. I also read a story about a guy that had DID and one of his alternate personalties was a serial killer. Weird huh? As far as the false memories I think people may take the easier route and their minds or imaginations congers the memory. I wonder if I might have some false memories. Or atleast this one that bothers me sometimes. I remember one time in particular that I recall that my mother and I were driving in the car and she shared some information with me about our family history. But, years later when I spoke to my mom about this she denied it ever happened. Why would I have this memory, have incorporated the information I derived from the experience into my life, and yet it could possibly not have ever happened? I think my mom just forgot about it but still......????
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
25 Nov 11
Oh...I see...yes...my grandmother worked at Eastern State..it was a mental hospital. She was a nurse and there was a woman there that had the different personalities. She would become someone very different many times a day sometimes. She was very big and youthful too...she caused quite a ruckus sometimes. She was violent when she was whoever else she was. She thought my grandmother was her mother most of the time. I think she was a little more than DID though....maybe schizophrenic. I bet it was very eerie when that man changed. I hate that you lost someone that way. I can see why you would study up on it. There have been a lot of discoveries but there is still alot to learn. Take care.
2 people like this
@celticeagle (119865)
• Boise, Idaho
26 Nov 11
Yes, it is eery when they change. There entire personna and look changes. I interviewed a young woman in a mental hospital once and it was very interesting. I just find it so fascinating. SOme say it isn't real but when you see them change and talk to them it couldn't possibly be staged unless they were very good.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
26 Nov 11
There are a lot of mental illnesses that people find unbelievable until they are actually around that person. The government has never taken mental illnesses seriously. Most insurance companies won't even cover the treatment for them. At least not enough treatment to actually help someone. I have always found psychology fascinating too. I have always wanted to study it. I had the class and there is follow up for me in February. The Psychology of Adjustment is the class I will be taking..I am very excited about it.
1 person likes this
@Lakota12 (42684)
• United States
24 Nov 11
DOnt know if I really surpressed it or just didnt think about it but back a few years ago it came to the surface and I now know why I feel about somethings thru my life and I beleive I have total recall of all what happened I had to be 6 or 7
2 people like this
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
I saw a painting once at a yardsale that was exactly like one that hung in the living room of the house I grew up in and talk about a flood of memories! They weren't bad but they were overwhelming. Was there a trigger that helped you remember or did you just get a little at a time over a period?
1 person likes this
@Lakota12 (42684)
• United States
26 Nov 11
a little over time
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
26 Nov 11
I see....that was perhaps the best way for you...the mind knew too much too soon wouldn't be good.
@ANTIQUELADY (36488)
• United States
24 Nov 11
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, JEN. I'm sure i have suppressed memories & i wish i could supress more. I hate it when i go down memory lane which i have done alot of lately it seems.
2 people like this
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
I know what you mean Jo. There are somethings we wish we could forget sometimes. Take care.
1 person likes this
@nanajanet (4436)
• United States
24 Nov 11
I have a friend, who was sexually abused, by her brother, as a child. She has a few memories, but not many. I often wonder if she is better off NOT recalling these horrible memories. Maybe they are not meant to come out, in this life.
2 people like this
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
Hi nanajanet. There are some things so terrible that it would be a gift never to remember. I think that the biggest thing I've seen in the psychology community is wanting people to face things that can help them to understand themselves better. I'm not sure I think that is a good thing sometimes. There are things that never make me feel one bit better or relieved because I talk them. I am much better when I don't. I haven't been sexually abused or anything like that but we all have painful memories of sorts I think. If it were something like what your friend went through...I know I wouldn't want to remember it. Thanks for responding.
1 person likes this
@savypat (20246)
• United States
24 Nov 11
I think the most common thing that most people can relate to is an accident, time after time it is proven that many details are supressed during an accident, even if it didn't happen to you and you just saw it. Your mind has a wonderful way of protecting it's self and can even forget the whole thing in order to heal it's self. Even in regular day to day living, our senses record much more then the mind lets into the couscious mind. If everything went in there we would be overpowered by unimportant details. Just remember that each person's mind determines what is important. Hubby remembers people and how they look, I remember feelings and colors best.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
24 Nov 11
Heyya savypat! I think that is the thing that keeps the mental research community on it's toes. People are just plain different and they can't figure out exactly what makes them so much so. There are certain things that we all do or think but those things that make us unique..well...they have no clue. There are a ton of things it could be. Your right about those details too. What's important in one person's mind means nothing to someone else. An accident or a crime witness is a great example.
1 person likes this
@Hatley (164485)
• Garden Grove, California
25 Nov 11
hi jenintn Psychology is really interesting but its been so long since I actually studied in a class. But I wanted to point ou t that sometimes a psychologist can sort of lead a person into a false suppressed memory. I know one man who was put through hell because his barely adult daughter had been going to this psychologist who somehow put into her mind that she was having emotional problems because she had suppressed the incidents of her father having had incestual relations with her. I knew this man to be a wonderful father and a great husband, and a super human being. I would have sworn he would never have done anything of the sort. For one thing he was a well respected gynecologist. After a long trial the case was thrown out because the daughter testified that she had never remembered her father ever touching her inappropriately at all. She also claimed that the psychologist had put this thought into her subconscious and she knew it was false.I know some men do molest their own daughters but some psychologists mislead their patients too, Those of us who were molested are never likely to forget something so wrong, so disgusting,sickening as it happened to us as small children, nothing surpressed but instead lived with. I myself carried my hatred of my dad into my marriage , and it was making me physically sick. My dear hubby suggested I go to my dad as an adult now and tell him I forgive him, but ask why he did this to me as a snall child just once. He refused to answer me and walked away. but from then on I felt at peace.the loss of that weight of hatred was gone. So maybe some will suppress this but trully I really doubt it.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
26 Nov 11
That is exactly what I am talking about! I read that most people that claimed to have suppressed memories didn't have a clue before their psychotherapy sessions. They did find that suggesting memories could put those memories in someone's head. After the discovery, they made some standard guidelines for the mental health community to follow for the purpose of protecting people from the "planted" memories. I don't think they can even claim there are suppressed memories anymore unless there is someone who can say they witnessed certain occurrences pertaining to them..sisters, brothers, close friends, or people that knew them well. The brain is complex but it is so much so that it tries to make "sense" of things sometimes and when someone tells or suggests that something might have happened it can create a memory of it. I'm glad that you were able to confront your dad and get closure. It is experiences like that which make me think that suppression is shaky. If there was one thing you wouldn't want to remember..it would have been that I am sure. Thanks for responding!