Are memories true?

How do you know if your history is true?

Elizabeth Loftus says that there are studies that prove that between 30-90% of people can be hypnotised, primed, or coaxed into creating a false memory. She says that it’s possible to create false trauma memories, too. She says that those memories have the same emotional impact as real memories, only they never happened.

So, if 30-90% of people can create false memories, how can I know what’s real and what’s not? How can I know if the history I’m basing my life and my personality on actually occurred? What about things I’ve forgotten about for years and years that suddenly pop into my consciousness? What if there’s no corroborating evidence? What if no one else remembers what I do?

How do we interrogate or investigate our own minds, when our minds are naturally unreliable and mercurial?

My sister wet the bed until she was 10. Nobody else in my family remembers this except me. But I’m certain it happened. Every night at around the same time, she would wake up vomiting and peeing. Dad would come in, clean her up, take her to the toilet and put her back to bed. Quite often she would wake me up, too.

We had pink bunk beds and a bedroom that was absolutely full of crap (toys, books, paper-mess, junk we found on the side of the road, clothes, you name it). I slept on the top bunk, and when I learned to successfully climb up and down the ladder the family shared a Vienetto (Australian icecream shaped like a log) as a reward.

Dad built the bunk beds out of solid pine (from a kit). He installed a bed-side lamp for each of us so that we could read in bed. Mine was yellow, and my sister’s was red. We listened to classical music or audio-books or story tapes every night, and Mum would usually read to us before bed. They loved us so much. They took such good care of us.

My sister had a plastic sheet under her fitted sheet, and a green basin next to her bed. So all Dad had to do was change the fitted sheet and empty the basin, and she’d sleep the rest of the night. I heard Dad comforting her, telling her ‘It’s all right, It’s all right, there there, there there, you’ll be OK” etc. He called her a slut. There was also a rhythmic, wet sound. Slap, slap, slap. Skin on skin. And my sister whimpering ‘No’.

I’ve been firmly told this is imaginary. That it’s impossible for it to be true. There’s no corroborating evidence. But I remember it.

What freedoms would you be prepared to give up, to end that? Would you be prepared to let someone see out of your eyes? Would you be prepared to let someone track you wherever you went? What if they mis-used the information? John Dal-berg Acton said “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

What corruption am I prepared to put up with, to ensure that never happens to anyone else? Because if there were a third party record, it would make a difference to my family. A big difference.

Image of leaf in park in Autumn

Memories: Real or Imaginary?

It’s a young person’s hubris to think you can change the world. Or to think you are solely responsible for anything. Everything is complicated, multifactorial, and involves multiple different people and opinions. Nothing is simple or entirely correct.

My Mum desperately wanted a child. Mum had been diagnosed with psychosis twice in her 20’s and was kept in hospital for an extra long while so that the medical staff could make sure she wasn’t psychotic post-partum. She wasn’t. But she was extremely volatile in many ways. It would have been hard for Dad to live with that. Mum says he disappeared off every day to work. It would have been hard for Mum to stay by herself all day—she’s very scared of people and finds it difficult to make friends. She would have been lonely.

We were friends with the post-man and the garbage truck drivers and the post-man used to call me the ‘little dictator’. Mum used to buy me iceblocks at Alice’s Shop, and we’d walk down to the park. We went to the library and Mum read to me often. I used to go down and visit with the gay couple who lived down stairs and I spent a lot of time playing in the garden. One time there was a whole litter of kittens under the banana palms!

There was a mulberry tree at that house, and Mum would climb a ladder a couple of times per year to pick mulberries. I had a whole row of toys along the back of the couch, and we had two fish (a brown speckled one, and a goldfish called Goldie) and a cat called Bobby. We ate healthy foods with lots of vegetables, and we watched Sesame Street and Playschool on the ABC. When Sesame Street played the ‘ZZ Blues’, Mum used to pick me up and dance me around the room.

When Mum got pregnant with my sister in 19**, she told me Dad bashed her. She made a report, and someone from social-services came around to make sure she and I were OK. They apparently decided we were.  She said Dad called her a stupid girl, and choked her and pushed her or hit her in some way in the bathroom.

Mum said that several years previous to that, they had broken up because Dad had cheated on her. She went back to him. They were both smart, but both had dropped out of uni. They both worked multiple casual, low paid jobs, learning this and that. They were both unhappy without really knowing what to do about it. They connected on the level of dysfunction. They bickered all the time.

We had a low armchair with thick, curved wooden arms. Dad used to sit on it and play ‘This is the way the lady rides, jiggedy jog’ with me.  It was riding a pretend horse (his knee). If I was naked, when he said ‘down the hole’ in the end, he sometimes used to put his fingers in my vagina. He used to play ‘Hard Time Time’ in bed where I’d sit on his stomach and pelvis and bounce on him. He was usually naked, but often in bed under the covers. He used to constantly play and practise the guitar, and he was learning the piano.

He left a six pack of beer out for the garbage men at Christmas.

I would be interested to hear your opinions, comments, and replies.