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Illusion by Conflation

  1. May 16, 2012 #1
    I've never heard this formally discussed in psychology literature but my own experience is that some false memories are the result of conflating two things that are in your visual field.

    Last week I saw one woman walking a dog and simultaneously another woman walking without a dog. I closed my eyes briefly because of a sun glare, and an image of the 2nd woman walking the dog appeared in my mind. I had mentally removed the dog from the first woman and given it to the second woman. That intrigued me because it seemed the seed of a false memory.

    Has anyone else caught themselves doing this? Does anyone know if there's any formal studies of the phenomenon?

    I don't know how many times I have been certain that a particular passage I'm looking for in a book will be on a specific side only to find out it is actually on the other side. With both sides in my field of vision when I am struck by the passage, I often somehow mentally transposed the passage from one side to the other, but feel confident the erroneous memory is true.

    I have also had a couple of dreams which I woke up to realize were based on memories of specific situations. In the dream, though, I had reversed roles: I was reliving the scene as the other person and casting them in my role. Our minds seem to be able to do this fairly easily; substitute one person, or thing, for another in remembering things.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2012 #2
  4. May 27, 2012 #3
    That's a good list. I hadn't realized they'd identified so many different types of memory distortion.

    The thing I'm talking about is discussed by Freud in relation to dreams where someone who appears in a dream seems, when we wake up, to have been a composite of several people we know. I've had many dreams like this. Freud's contention was that they become conflated in the dream because they actually do share something in real life (in relation to us, anyway) that causes us to unconsciously associate them.
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