When I look at my own memories, here is what I find…..
They are mental representations of the senses – sight (images), sound, taste, smell, touch.
They are mentally inserted on a mental representation of a timeline, and among other mental representations taken as memories.
A thought says they are true, or not. It really happened, or not.
This is why memories are notoriously unreliable. Since they are mental representations they are, quite literally, imagined. And it’s very easy (read: inevitable) for them to change over time, for pure imagination to be inserted into the timeline and be taken as true, and even for “accurate” representations to be taken as something that didn’t happen. It’s also very easy for these mental representations, these imaginations, to be influenced by what we hear and see, or even the questions someone is asking us. (Questions will inevitably reflect the assumptions of the person asking the questions, and this influences the form the mental representations takes of the one asked the questions).
And that’s why memories “recovered” through hypnosis are unreliable at best, created at worst, and can also be (unnecessarily) distressing to the client.