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Thursday, December 23, 2010

T3 - Ammo for Family Gatherings: Detecting False Memories

It seems that when we get together with family at the holidays, old memories resurface about times gone by. Funny thing is, a lot of these "memories" really bare little resemblance to what actually happened.

So now, armed with the below, you can nip those embarrassing confabulations in the bud! (I use the term confabulation, which some of you might not know, because I'm at a loss for a better lay term. A confabulation is a fabricated imaginary experience used to compensate for memory loss. It's not necessarily intentional or's the "I walked 13 miles up hill, in the snow, barefoot" syndrome--stretching the tale a bit as time passes.)

When Grandpa starts in about how you did such-and-such, with the intent to embarrass you a bit in front of your significant other, ask him to relay some of the following:

1) Sensory data. What color shirt did I have on when that happened, Gramps? What did that smell like again?

2) Detail. Can you remember where Butch kept the lighter fluid back in those days? Which book did you always keep on the nightstand? Irrelevant stuff, but it can sometimes be the difference between a real memory and a false one.

3) Association. See if you can get Gramps to recall another memory that might be logically connected to the one he's confabulating. Maybe something directly preceding or following the event he's going on about. If he can't, that would be a point in your corner.

Head to those family gatherings without fear. You always know when someone is giving a false memory or confabulation about you, but now you can call them out. Good luck!

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1 comment:

Lisa Nowak said...

The people in my family would dismiss all those things. "I can't remember what color shirt I wore yesterday. How am I supposed to remember the one you were wearing 23 years ago?" Dysfunctional people are very good at believing what they want to and ONLY what they want to. But this was an interesting post. Now at least I can impress them with a fancy new word. :)

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.