Have you ever seen an old picture of you as a child and you think that you remember that time, but you are just not positive? This is called,”False Memory.” False memory is when people remember events in different orders than which they happened, or they remember situations that may not have ever happened at all. False memory can be relevant in a lot of court cases and in every day life, when looking back at family pictures or old youth memories.
A case that I am going to be discussing is referring to Julia Shaw, who is a criminal psychologist. In this situation, she was contacted by a lawyer discussing a case that dealt with two young girls, who were sisters that claimed to have been sexually assaulted by someone they knew. They said this person was a “close female relative” (Wired, 2017). These young girls described the assault in very good detail, making it very plausible. As Shaw looked into the case in greater depth, she realized that the girls were talking about how much of their childhood they blocked out, which is also known as “repression.” Shaw said, “I don’t try to find out if a person is guilty or innocent, It’s about whether the memory is reliable or not” (Wired, 2017). The trigger of the memory occurring was a post on Facebook by the individual who assaulted them. This led one of the sisters to remember being sexually abused when she was younger, and then the older sister started to believe what apparently happened. The cases ended up being dropped because of these repressed memories and unreliable events. Shaw said, “contrary to what many believe, human memories are malleable, open to suggestion and often unintentionally false” (Wired, 2017).
After looking at this specific occurrence, we can now understand how easy it is to create false memories. According to Wired, 2017, “False memories are everywhere. In everyday situations, we don’t really notice or care that they’re happening. We call them mistakes, or say we misremember things” (Julia Shaw, Criminal Psychologist).
False memory can be so incredible when you think about it, because it happens more than you would think. I asked a question in class about seeing an old picture of me when I was a baby and thinking I remember that specific time, but after researching this topic, I don’t think my memories are reliable. I used the court case above because I found that a lot of people are convicted for certain reasons, but then are found not guilty in the end. I believe that False Memory is the major cause for these punishments.