Memories seem unchanging and solid. Moreover, they help make us who we are. Many people consider themselves to be the sum of their memories. And yet, strong evidence exists that suggests our memories are highly complex, malleable, and extremely falliable. Through effective suggestion, we can be made to remember things that never happened, or in less extreme cases, change the details of things that really did happen. How much of what you remember is real, and how much is illusion?

Recent posts on False Memories

Your Brain and That "Other National Deficit"

Recent research indicates that our brain's susceptibility to false memories of the past may actually come in handy in our encounters with unfamiliar situations in the future.

Why Our Memories Seem to Change as We Age

What should we do when our future is limited and our past is solidified in our background? Should we improve our hindsight or pursue our dreams?

Try to Forget: The Psychology of Repression

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on July 25, 2016 in A Sideways View
What do the cognitive psychologists and the psychoanalysts say about repression?

Future Thinking and False Memories

Have you ever had a vivid memory that turned out to be false? New research suggests that false memories may actually be associated with a number of positive psychological traits.

Where Neuroscience is Making the Impossible, Possible

Three ways science fiction is fast becoming science.

When Clients Confess to Crimes They Did Not Commit

What if your client confessed to harming a child, but you were sure it didn't happen? A psychologist weighs the options and debates whether to report or not report.

The Secret Truth About Our Earliest Memories

By David Ludden Ph.D. on June 01, 2016 in Talking Apes
Your life story may be more fiction than fact.

Trauma, PTSD, and Memory Distortion

One of the cruelest aspects of PTSD is that traumatic memories intensify over time, contributing to its progressive nature. This phenomenon may have once had value for humans.

Adult Justification of Child Humiliation and Mistreatment

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on March 20, 2016 in Moral Landscapes
Ignoring feelings and needs, derision, contempt: Should parents be excused if they treat their children this way? Psychotherapist Alice Miller used to think so, but changed.

How Does the Law Treat Repressed Memories?

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on February 09, 2016 in So Sue Me
The existence of repressed memories is a controversial topic in psychology. But how will it play out in court?

What the film Altered Minds Reveals about Family Secrets

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on January 26, 2016 in The Squeaky Wheel
Part two of my interview with the director of 'Altered Minds'--focusing on family secrets.

Why Psych Majors Should Watch Altered Minds

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on January 25, 2016 in The Squeaky Wheel
Part one of my interview with the director of the psychological thriller 'Altered Minds' starring Judd Hirsch

8 Tips to Make You a Great Story Teller

Telling a good tale may seem like an art that some people are born with. Even if you’re not known for your story-telling skills, these 8 simple tips can help you become the spell-binding spinner you always hoped you could be.
courtesy of Rowish Productions

Altered Minds

By Hara Estroff Marano on November 20, 2015 in Nation of Wimps
In a new film, Altered Minds, director Michael Z Wechsler bases the psychological suspense on covert mind-control experiments.

'Altered Minds' Brings Modern Crises to the Big Screen

Michael Weschler’s newest film, Altered Minds, provides an over-the-top glimpse into family dynamics gone awry. One reason that family dynamics and resultant mental health issues can be so messed up these days pertains to evolutionary mismatch. Here’s how.

Ben Carson and the Mandela Effect

By David Ludden Ph.D. on November 09, 2015 in Talking Apes
It’s not just that our memories are unreliable. Our intuitions about how memory works are inaccurate as well.

Does Mindfulness Meditation Affect Memory?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on November 03, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
A key aspect of memory is your ability to distinguish things that actually happened to you from things you were just thinking about. When you witness an accident, your ability to recall it properly requires that you remember whether facts you believe about that event came from what you actually saw and heard or whether they reflect other factors.

The 4 Ways You Can Tell a Therapist Is Competent

That’s only 4 things I’m looking for when evaluating in-office individual talk therapy. In my experience, the vast majority of therapists practice none of them.

Eye of the Beholder: The Brain Sabotaging Love

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 02, 2015 in Obesely Speaking
Social influences could cause us to walk right past Mr. or Ms. Right without ever recognizing them.
John Holabird, 82nd Airborn Infantry Division, in WW2,.alum who visited and talked to my school when I was 10. Photo given me by Hola

World War II Memories

By Joan Ullman M.A. on May 15, 2015 in Uncharted Customs
A I was to young to remember much about it. But I've been so riveted to other people's dramatizations of the war in books, films or on the screen, that the war has felt like part of my psychic reality. You could say I've been just one step shy of suffering a Brian Williams type 'embellishment syndrome.'

Neuroscientists Confirm That Strangers Can Become Ourselves

Your brain has the ability to transfer your sense of self into the physical body of a stranger.

Why Are Cannabis Users Susceptible to Memory Distortion?

A new study reports that chronic cannabis use can make imaginary memories seem like reality.

Brian Williams, Journalism, and Celebrity Culture

By Patrick L. Plaisance Ph.D. on March 25, 2015 in Virtue in the Media World
When journalists start living in a celebrity bubble, bad things can happen. Just ask Brian Williams. His downfall reminds us of the malleability of memory, and it also poses a cautionary tale to all journalists, particularly to the trend in journalism education to promote "entrepreneurial" journalism -- teaching aspiring journalists to cultivate their own "brand".

Remembering 9/11

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on March 23, 2015 in Media Spotlight
Exceptionally vivid memories we have concerning traumatic events have a way of staying with us long after other memories fade with time. Known as "flashbulb memories", they are a form of autobiographical memory that are especially powerful due to surprise and shock that ensures that the memory stays with us. But how accurate are these memories?

Blank Spaces of Memory

By Bruce Poulsen Ph.D. on March 01, 2015 in Reality Play
Memory’s underpinnings have long been explored by artists and writers—from Klimt to Proust. Some contemporary works also deserve our attention.

Think You Can't Get Drunk on Soda Water? Think Again.

By Amira Rezec Wegenek Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Have You Ever Wondered...?
Don't blame it on the alcohol! Blame it on your expectations about drinking.

Why We Remember Things the Way We Want to Remember Them

When public figures erroneously report on events that didn’t actually happen in their lives, the whole world knows about it. However, false memories are a common occurrence in everyone’s day-to-day thinking. Remembering what you want to remember may be more a matter of identity than of failing memory.

Should Brian Williams Do a Story on False Memory?

By Thomas P Keenan MA, M.Sc., Ed.D on February 13, 2015 in Technocreep
Did newsman Brian Williams tell fibs to his TV audience? To himself? Or is something more complicated going on? New research, reported at the AAAS conference in San Jose, shows that memory can be a very tricky thing. We're just starting to understand how it works and, in some dark creepy labs, scientists are even planting false memories—in mice (or so they say).

The Truth About False Memories

By Denise Cummins Ph.D. on February 12, 2015 in Good Thinking
Implanting false memories in people is not as easy as we've been led to believe.

Why Famous People Aren’t Immune to False Memories

There are many important reasons why Brian Williams would in fact feel like he indeed remembers riding in a helicopter that was hit and damaged, even if he was nowhere near it.