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Childhood Memory

catseye

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I've read somewhere (because I have an interest in such things) that memories tend to be formed more easily when the mind has the language to describe them, because the memory is reinforced by the mind 'telling itself stories'. So, for example, you are unlikely to have a (real) memory from birth, simply because, at birth, your brain hasn't enough language skills to be able to tell itself the story of 'I was pushed down a tube', so most memories that we think are very very early are actually dreams or manufactured memories (where a child has thought 'it must have been like this' and 'told itself that story' over and over).

It does seem to hold true for me and people I know. Those who learned to speak later have later childhood memories than those who spoke and read very early. My first memory, for example, is very hazy, but consists of looking at some baby animals that had been born under a cupboard. My mother told me that this was in Ireland, on holiday when I was eighteen months old, and a cat had had kittens under a cupboard. Now I knew the word 'baby' and 'cupboard' which is probably why the memory is this, rather than the (apparently traumatic) sailing to Ireland, travelling around with the local doctor looking at scenery, and the (photographic evidence of this exists) visit to a pig farm. I just didn't have those words yet.
 

Sollywos

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I've read somewhere (because I have an interest in such things) that memories tend to be formed more easily when the mind has the language to describe them,
I'd written a long reply yesterday exploring that very point ... just about to send and deleted it instead. Oh I had plenty of language for that I can tell you!!!

Anyway I have many memories from my sisters birth onwards and apparently I could talk in sentences before I was one. I'm not sure if my sister was a late talker or not but her memories from our shared childhood are very sketchy compared to mine.

One thing she does remember though is my insistence on telling each other our dreams first thing in the morning while waiting for mum to tell us we could get up. Not so many years ago now she admitted to me that she was totally mystified by what I meant and thought I must be making up stories so she tried to do the same but couldn't get the hang of doing it so quickly, on the hoof so to speak. I remember thinking her dreams were not very interesting and usually only went on for a couple of sentences at the most and usually the first one was 'once upon a time' lol! I can even remember one of them :-

'Once upon a time there was a whuhenar.'

In answer to my puzzlement she explained that she'd meant to say 'budgerigar'.

Of course in a way she was right about the making up stories but I had the advantage over her as I was working on the series of images I'd seen in my sleep ... tidying them up so as to make a coherent story. Which is probably why I can still remember some of them.

Which brings me to wondering why do some people not remember their dreams? I feel sorry for people who don't and feel they are missing out.

Another thing that come to mind when wondering about the gaps in my sisters memory is the way our thinking differs. By which I mean she'll see the trees first and the wood second and I'm the reverse. May or may not be relevant of course. :)
 

Mythopoeika

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Which brings me to wondering why do some people not remember their dreams? I feel sorry for people who don't and feel they are missing out.
It does frustrate me at times. I very rarely remember my dreams. Probably because they are mostly mundane. I may only remember the exciting ones.
 

Mooka

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My husband has a memory from when he was very young, just a mundane standing on the doorstep looking outside memory, but its of the house he and his family moved from when he was about one and a half. My earliest memories are from age three.

@Sollywos It‘s not very often I don’t remember my dreams, and sometimes it’s two or three seperate ones in one night I remember vividly. I am a very light sleeper so wake up regularly throughout the night, this could be why I remember them. I know my dreams have always been very vivid and I’m aware I use all my senses in them including taste and smell. I still remember some of my dreams from when I was very young, not necessarily repetitive ones either. I often astound my husband when I’m telling him about certain dreams I’ve had usually because of how bonkers they are, like the times I dream I’m not myself but a man. He very rarely remembers his dreams but is a heavy sleeper.
 

catseye

Old lady trouser-smell with yesterday's knickers
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@Sollywos i frequently remember my dreams and always wake knowing I HAVE dreamed, but sometimes the images fade away before I can 'tell myself the story'. However, if I can do that, vocalise the events and vague emotions that surrounded the dream, it tends to stick with me. Maybe there's something about saying it aloud (or even to yourself in the case of childhood memory) that shuffles the memory into long term storage rather than letting it fade from short term memory.

I've met a few people who assert that they 'never dream'. I tell them that, yes, they do, everyone does, but they seem to regard dreams as stupid or silly and disposable anyway, which may mean they don't find the need to 'tell the story' to themselves and therefore lose the memory very fast.
 

Mr_Hermolle

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I had a very odd experience involving a dream and an early memory - or not as the case may be. In the late 90s (I would have been about 26) I suddenly remembered a dream I had when I was 2 or 3 (in itself not surprising, I have some memories of dreams from back then; a malevolent twisting lampshade, something to do with Space 1999 and an expedition to a planet full of volcanoes and giant spiders). Anyhow, this suddenly remembered dream involved me and my sister in the back of our then-car, a white beetle or such like. In this suddenly remembered dream just a single image, my sister, a baby in the dream, was vanishing down a green square tube with slimy walls. I was marvelling at this sudden memory of a dream which was nearly 25 years old when I suddenly had the feeling - or did I dream this last night? At that precise moment it suddenly felt liwasbreaking breaking apart - that it was both the late 90s and early 70s - that all time was happening at once - and only our everyday filters made past and present different from one another. It felt a lot like that sense of unfolding revelation I get with deja-vu - andlike that feeling, it then just went. Felt like I had short-circuited my conscious somehow. Such an odd feeling.
 

Tunn11

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I never used to crawl as a baby, I sat up and sort of shuffled about on my arse by bending one leg under me. I have a memory of mum explaining this to someone saying something like no, he refuses to crawl; don't suppose it matters. I can also remember that it was much easier to stand up from that position by grabbing a chair. No idea how old I was and no one to ask anymore!

I also remeber my first efforts at going down our stairs, quite steep and enclosed. Vague memories of being left higher up each time and encouraged to come down backwards as if on a ladder so it was difficult to fall.

I can also remember being woken up and being under the bed; and being brought in at night from the garden where I was wandering about in PJs and a dressing gown. I suspect these were dreams, certainly the last one.
 

catseye

Old lady trouser-smell with yesterday's knickers
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What I find interesting is - you know when you have one of those 'flashback' moments during the day, when you suddenly remember a dream from the night before? Some people tend to say things like 'oh, you just broke my dream from last night...' and then you remember scenes or details from the dream.

Well, how does this work? Either dreams go into long term memory (which happens if you recite them to yourself as you wake up, or write them down, or make a conscious effort to remember) or they don't, and just vanish into the ether. Which is natural, as, given the number of dreams we have, if we remembered every single one, our brains would be full.

So why the sudden memory?
 

Endlessly Amazed

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What I find interesting is - you know when you have one of those 'flashback' moments during the day, when you suddenly remember a dream from the night before? Some people tend to say things like 'oh, you just broke my dream from last night...' and then you remember scenes or details from the dream.

Well, how does this work? Either dreams go into long term memory (which happens if you recite them to yourself as you wake up, or write them down, or make a conscious effort to remember) or they don't, and just vanish into the ether. Which is natural, as, given the number of dreams we have, if we remembered every single one, our brains would be full.

So why the sudden memory?
I have no idea. I am unconvinced that memory is neatly divided into short-term and long-term, as my memory is not bimodal. I suspect that memory occurs on a gradient of ephemeral to decades long, and how well it persists can be changed by events long after the creation of the memory.

Don't we have a real memory expert on here? Or am I remembering this wrong?!? Memory-person, please weigh in.
 

catseye

Old lady trouser-smell with yesterday's knickers
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I have no idea. I am unconvinced that memory is neatly divided into short-term and long-term, as my memory is not bimodal. I suspect that memory occurs on a gradient of ephemeral to decades long, and how well it persists can be changed by events long after the creation of the memory.

Don't we have a real memory expert on here? Or am I remembering this wrong?!? Memory-person, please weigh in.
From anything I've read, memories are first filed in 'short term' memory, but constant revisiting of them causes them to be shifted into long term memory. So anything disposable, only needed to be remembered for a moment, will slide back out again, whereas things that we constantly think about has reinforced neural pathways which mean it's long term memory.

But dreams - there's not really any need or reason to remember dreams. Some seem to hang on longer after waking, therefore get revisted more and dwelt on, and therefore get pushed into long term memory. But what about the ones that slip away on waking, only to be jolted back into the forefront of our memories when something happens that makes you think 'hang on, I dreamed that last night...' and bang, there's a memory of at least part of a previous dream.

I used to keep a dream diary (don't judge me...). I found it during the house move and re read. Some of the images from the dreams I'd written down I could still remember. Others were just blanks, to the extent that I wondered what cheese I had eaten before bed to come up with them.
 

Sid

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From anything I've read, memories are first filed in 'short term' memory, but constant revisiting of them causes them to be shifted into long term memory. So anything disposable, only needed to be remembered for a moment, will slide back out again, whereas things that we constantly think about has reinforced neural pathways which mean it's long term memory.

But dreams - there's not really any need or reason to remember dreams. Some seem to hang on longer after waking, therefore get revisted more and dwelt on, and therefore get pushed into long term memory. But what about the ones that slip away on waking, only to be jolted back into the forefront of our memories when something happens that makes you think 'hang on, I dreamed that last night...' and bang, there's a memory of at least part of a previous dream.

I used to keep a dream diary (don't judge me...). I found it during the house move and re read. Some of the images from the dreams I'd written down I could still remember. Others were just blanks, to the extent that I wondered what cheese I had eaten before bed to come up with them.
Might have more to do with survival instincts being stored long term, as to forget them completely would mean falling foul of your own demise!
 

Robsocks

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This reminds me of an incident from my early teens. My family were packed and ready to make the journey from Cornwall to Manchester the next day to visit my aunt who was ill in hospital. During the night I suddenly woke up with the strong feeling that someone was in my room, and I could smell perfume. There was no one in my room. The feeling quickly faded, as did the odour, but it had been so strong I got out of bed and opened my bedroom door to listen for any signs that my mother was awake as I thought perhaps she had come into the room to check on me, although that would be a very unusual thing for her to do. The house was silent and there was no light showing under my parents bedroom door so I put it down to a dream and tried to get back to sleep. However a few minutes later the phone rang. It was my aunt's partner phoning to inform us that she had passed away. Part of me wants to believe she came to say goodbye to me, however I can't discount it being a dream perhaps brought on by stress as we knew she was gravely ill. The perfume I smelt was not one we had in the house.
 

eziofan

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I have very clear memories from the age of two, including my sister being born, and some vague ones from earlier than that. I certainly remember England winning the World Cup in 1966 and being taught to read before I started school, both when I was three.
I have a few clear memories of playing out in the street in front of our old house (we moved when I was 4). However, what has really bothered me is that I have absolutely no memories of the 1966 World Cup. I have always been a football fan and cannot understand how I cannot have retained some memory of such a nationally important event. I am a fan of singer/songwriter Billy Bragg and in his autobiography he discribes walking with his Dad at half time and he had never seen the normally busy high street so deserted. We are bith the same age and from the same general area but always wonder why our memories differ so much.
 

Seasidepagan

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I have a very very vague childhood memory from when I was 5 years old and was involved in an accident where I received a nasty cut below an eye. Other than that most of my earliest memories are from when I was 7, 8 or older.
I do find it a little unbelievable when listening to psychics and mediums who claim to have extremely clear recollections of interactions with spirits from the age of 3. And a guy on telly recently was recounting the sad death of his mother from a heart attack when he was 3 years old and was saying how helpless he remembers feeling because he couldn’t help with the CPR that others were attempting to save his mothers life. I strongly suspect he would have little understanding of what was happening at that age.
Am I unusual in not being able to clearly remember incidents from age 3 or are some of these people imagining false memories from such a tender age?
I can remember being in my pushchair which had a black vinyl interior (the early 1970s) and the hot sun making it so scorching it burnt my arm. My brother was born when I was 2 and then I remember sitting on the pram seat as it lunged forward as mum went up the kerb. Clear memories from such an early age. Not saying other people’s aren’t imagined but these are real.
 

What Tyler

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... I do recall, and I was about 3 at the time,( it was Spring 1967), of of locking my heavily pregnant Mum ( pregnant with my twin half sisters- I’m 3 years 4 months older) out in the back garden, as a “ game”... despite Her requests- which became increasing vexed, I didn’t let Her in and She had to get back in through the partly open kitchen window, clamber over the sink... get to me... and you can imagine the rest!

I also do remember being allowed/ woken up see the first Moon landing, and my very first day at school in Sept 1969, when I had to tell the Headmaster that he’d put my name tag in upside down...
 

Iris

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What Tyler I too remember being about the same age and locking my Mother in the outside toilet and going off to play.
She had to wait till the visiting baker let her out.
 

What Tyler

Spoon, Jar, Jar, Spoon...
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What Tyler I too remember being about the same age and locking my Mother in the outside toilet and going off to play.
She had to wait till the visiting baker let her out.
...was the baker “ Two ton Ted from Teddington”, perchance? ( and that also is on theme- we can probably all remember that particular number 1) ....;)
 

Sogna

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I have a few clear memories of playing out in the street in front of our old house (we moved when I was 4). However, what has really bothered me is that I have absolutely no memories of the 1966 World Cup. I have always been a football fan and cannot understand how I cannot have retained some memory of such a nationally important event. I am a fan of singer/songwriter Billy Bragg and in his autobiography he discribes walking with his Dad at half time and he had never seen the normally busy high street so deserted. We are bith the same age and from the same general area but always wonder why our memories differ so much.

If he’s talking about Barking, my family would have been watching the final about 500 yards from the High St, which is an odd coincidence
 

eziofan

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That’s a bit further away, but within a mile or two, close enough to still be odd!
There is another strange coincidence in that book. Billy talks about his first paper round. His round started at the WWII prefabs on the corner of Victoria Road and Ilford Lane. My Nans prefab was the first on the corner!
 

TheLeeds

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What I find interesting is - you know when you have one of those 'flashback' moments during the day, when you suddenly remember a dream from the night before? Some people tend to say things like 'oh, you just broke my dream from last night...' and then you remember scenes or details from the dream.

Well, how does this work? Either dreams go into long term memory (which happens if you recite them to yourself as you wake up, or write them down, or make a conscious effort to remember) or they don't, and just vanish into the ether. Which is natural, as, given the number of dreams we have, if we remembered every single one, our brains would be full.

So why the sudden memory?

In Transactional Analysis they call it rubber banding. The theory is that each memory is attached to an elastic band, and something similar or familiar in the present pulls on the elastic band thus triggering recall.

I don't very often remember my dreams, and the ones I do remember are ones I was having when I've been prematurely woken up, for example if someone rings the doorbell. We tend only to dream whilst in REM sleep, and if waking naturally, we pass through shallower stages of sleep where the memory of the dream fades prior to us waking up fully.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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As I mentioned in the Atlantis thread, I spent some of my very early childhood (aged around 18 months to 3.5 years old) in Malta, as my father was based there with the RAF in the early 60s.
I have a few very vivid memories from those times.
Swimming in the sea with water-wings on. Think it was at Golden Bay and my father told me laughingly not to swim out to a cave I could see across the bay, as there was an octopus in there. Feeling the scorchingly hot sand and complaining about being very thirsty and being bought a beautifully chilled bottle of Coca Cola from a beach vendor. A stray cat my parents adopted bringing a live scorpion into the flat. Tins of Milo (malted chocolate) coming with little tip-shift cartoon free gifts. Being looked after at a creche run by nuns, while my parents were at work and listening to the radio (no TV) playing "The Monster Mash".
 

Sid

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In Transactional Analysis they call it rubber banding. The theory is that each memory is attached to an elastic band, and something similar or familiar in the present pulls on the elastic band thus triggering recall.

I don't very often remember my dreams, and the ones I do remember are ones I was having when I've been prematurely woken up, for example if someone rings the doorbell. We tend only to dream whilst in REM sleep, and if waking naturally, we pass through shallower stages of sleep where the memory of the dream fades prior to us waking up fully.
Only trouble there is that rubber bands can quickly become perishable! :)
 

Eyespy

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Away from the original topic perhaps but I have an odd childhood memory, going back 40 years to when I was 10. At the back of our house we were living in was a farmers field on a slightly lower level to the garden. At the edge of the field was what seemed to be a marshy ares full of long grass. I remember being fascinated by the sound of running water - a stream I couldnt see? One day the fence was down and I got to explore this marshy area. Thete was indeed a small stream flowing from a culvert that came from under the garden. In my memory the stream was narrow but quite deep , leading off from this there was a deep trench full of weird orange mud. We played there for a couple of weeks until the farmers son (our age) came over and said we would be in 'serious trouble' if we were caught playing there... So we didnt and the fences soon got fixed anyway. The whole memory seems unreal and dream-like. No-on else in my family remembers this area anf the stream. Met up over the weekend with my next door neighbor for the first time since the 80s. He bought up the stream as well - I spoke to his parents whp have no memory of the stream either. Seems its just me and him. But its odf how such a small thing has becone such a vivid memory - more important than what the memory should be. My old 10xt door neighbour felt the same too - he was only 5 years old at the time as well - I was 10. Ive looked on Google Maps too and theres just a farmers field - no sign of a stream or a grassy area. Maybe it got filled in - but the whole memory has a heavy strangeness about it.
MrHermolle, is it possible that the stream was actually run off from the farm ? And you were playing in contaminated water, hence the orang mud? This could explain why the other boy warned you off, as he would have been told not to play there by his father.
 
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