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False Memory Syndrome Essay

1696 words - 7 pages

Psychologists have diligently studied the human mind for many years and have yet to discover some of the ways that the brain performs simple and complex tasks. Since the knowledge that has been obtained concerning processes of the brain remains a mere fraction compared to what is unknown about cognitive functioning, individuals cannot fully grasp the reasoning behind why the brain performs some of the acts it does. Many people daydream, picture themselves recovering lost items in obscure places, or even create stories repeated so much that individuals begin to believe they may have happened; all three of these examples are forms of creating a false memory. Many psychologists have ...view middle of the document...

These older people do not necessarily generate a different reality, but rather recall only past events, thus making them believe that they remain in these memories (2). “Confabulation is clearly for more than a result of a deficit in our memory”, says William Hirstein, a neurologist and philosopher at Elmhurst College in Chicago, Illinois. Schnider states that we all might have a pre-conscious brain function that determines whether memories are important and must be kept or irrelevant and may be discarded (2). The determination process takes place subconsciously, much too early for subjects to know when it is taking place; our brain separates reality from fabrication well beyond when individuals conceive thought, Schnider believes (3). Children do not require much encouragement when called upon to speak on a topic they know minute detail, or nothing at all about (2). Children, as well as adults, feel they must confabulate when pressured to speak of something they know little of, some patients confabulate during and proceeding hypnosis; this increases cynicism toward psychologists and interferes with the accuracy of witness testimony (2). The strange occurrence of false memory is common to virtually everyone – that time you went to the movies and everyone got sick from the bad Chinese everyone agreed to consume, per say, when you were actually home in bed with the stomach flu, but you have heard so many people repeat the tale over time that you actually seem to remember it from a cache in your own memory from people repeating the story so many times over the months (Thean 1).
For quite a while, Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) was the diagnosis du jour; people all over the world clamed to have different personalities within them; some had personalities of different genders, animals, past lives, and even a few even had personalities of inanimate objects (Waterhouse 2). MPD was highly debated in both the United States and the United Kingdom, but in the United States, MPD’s validity was in question until a film by the name of Sybil was released in 1973(2). Sybil was a book published in 1973 about a woman with sixteen personalities, which was made into a film seen by maybe one-fifth of Americans (2). The film spread the idea that abuse in the earlier years of life could lead to the development of MPD; when a child was being abused, he would picture someone else being abused, thus forming an alter ego (2). The number of reported cases of MPD began to increase. In 1980, the diagnoses entered the most important book for United States Psychologists, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2). There were doubts about the validity of MPD, which came with a new thought that individuals could repress traumatic memories until forced to remember later in therapy. Why are individuals required to recall these unfortunate events? Why does it matter where the source of these memories are, or better yet, if they are true? ...

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