Rumors and Lies Have Ways of Breeding False Memories

As rumors and lies circulate, details are included and added to the stories, and these details have a way of being inserted into people’s memories. There have been cases of burglaries where the homeowners “thought they saw” an unarmed burglar with a gun when, in fact, there was no gun.

Understand that in these cases, people don’t lie on purpose. They really and truly believe they saw a gun in the criminal’s hand or his pocket. They actually “remember” seeing it.

And the reason they remember it so plainly is that they’ve heard and talked about it so much their brains filled in the blanks with the details based on what they heard. Another reason for false memories is that when bullies ask questions such as,

“Did you see her do this?”

“Did you hear him say that?”

they only suggest that she did do this, or he did say that- the Power of Suggestion at work.

It’s so easy to influence people’s memories by presenting something in a particular way. Also, the memory will adjust itself according to a person’s stereotypes and expectations. People see what they expect to see.

Too often, people’s memories depend on social expectations- what they expect the target to do and not what he is actually doing.

Understand that memories are mistakable and can be falsified. Sure. And whether accurate or make-believe, once it becomes a memory, there’s no way to tell the difference.

If you’re a target of bullying, I want you to realize that this does happen and that you must make preparations accordingly to protect yourself better.

2 thoughts on “Rumors and Lies Have Ways of Breeding False Memories

  1. This is a really good and deep thought provoking post. Absolutely it is also why two people can witness the same thing and completely have seen or heard something that seems to contradict. And if a group of people keep spreading lies about you or telling you the same thing over and over again sometimes you start believing it. Here’s an analogy. Let’s say you ask 10 people out on dates while you are in high school, and 7 say yes, 2 say no because they aren’t ready for a relationship, and 1 is like no way. We seem to focus on the 1 or 2 and believing negative things about ourselves despite 7 out of the 10 saying yes, 70 percent is actually really good but we focus on the bad. And bullies will often try to attack and prey upon many different aspects of others until they hit on something that affects the person.

    • You’re correct with everything you said here. As for focusing on the 1-2 people who didn’t, I think we’re hardwired to do that. However, it takes retraining your brain to reframe the negative into the positive. Instead of saying, “Those two didn’t want me so I must be a failure,” say, “Okay, big deal, those two are the ones who lost out. 7 out of 10 said yes. The majority liked me so I’m still out ahead.” Retrain your mind long enough and it becomes like second nature and you no longer have to think about it or put in a conscious effort. It will come naturally.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.