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Thank you for your reply, and validation. The three syllable word memory was indeed a story repeated to me, and I am aware that my recollection could be constructed from the tale. The other 18 month memory is not a family tale, but an incident during toilet training, which I'm told was completed when I was 18 months. It's a sequence of fragments. I was wearing tangerine coloured terry toweling pants instead of nappies, and my mother told me to tell her if I wanted to go to the toilet. We were in the dining room, I was sitting at the table and she was on the floor busy doing things inside a cupboard. I rarely spoke anyway, and I didn't want to bother her - I felt it would be bad to bother her. Later in the bathroom she asked me why I hadn't told her I wanted to go. I didn't answer aloud but thought the reason, and I noticed she didn't know what I was thinking. I think I expected her to know my thoughts - this might be the occasion when I learnt that she didn't. Another early memory is of hiding from my bigger sister by shielding my eyes behind the back rails of a kitchen chair. I was sure she couldn't see me. I knew this because I couldn't see her. Then she said "I can see you, you're sticking out" and I realized with awe the truth of what she said - that she could see me although I couldn't see her. This seemed momentous to me. (I was crouching on the seat of the chair, so was quite small at the time.)
None of my early memories involve more interaction than this, except for episodes with my frightening mother. My observation of patterns on the pillow, ceiling and wall paper was a solitary occupation, either while I was meant to be napping, or in the very early morning. (I'm an illustrator and graphic artist by profession and derive intense visual pleasure from some images and patterns: this might be why I recall these things.)
Before the age of 2 the memories are fragments, but after 24 months the episodes become longer. I can date them as my brother was born when I was 16 months old and I recall him in the bassinet, and crawling.
I'm bemused by the idea that early memories usually involve social interaction. The interactions I recall were meaningless, baffling or threatening to me. Mostly my sense was that I was an observer.
I also am interested to find if others have these sorts of early memories. I haven't spoken to anyone who has, to my surprise.
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