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.



I saw this when it first came out and thought it was very good.

What sticks with me now – and perhaps the main reminder from this movie – is that we have memories and tend to take them as true, or at least mostly or close to true. While in reality, they are just memories. They are images appearing here now, triggering emotions, and with stories about them saying they reflect the past, and that’s it. I cannot know for certain they actually reflect the past. And the past itself, the idea of a past is an image, as is any ideas of what happened in that past.

There is a big difference in knowing this abstractly, as an interesting thought, and knowing it through and through – with body and mind – about specific instances and memories. I can inquiry into one memory at a time, and gradually there is a shift in how I relate to stories about the past. I see – through specific, concrete and genuine examples – how my images of the past are just that, images, alive here now.