This source is a report about a trial on sexual abuse where the victim is thought to have been claiming false memories. This report has led me into thinking that whether these memories are true or not, if people believe in them, then they will now become a part of their reality. I believe that false memories can become a part of one’s identity. One cannot perceive oneself if one does not know what he or she has ever done, therefore past memories are necessary for one to form a self identity.
It has been found that the false memories are just as real to that person as any true memory. There are lots of situations in life where other people cannot tell another person for sure whether the memory he or she has is true or not. Who can be sure that every single detail of our own memory is in fact correct? Not many would, but everybody still perceives themselves through those memories. Whether what actually happened no longer matters because this memory now becomes the reality of whom those people think they are.
Even if later on the memories are to be proved false, those people have already made judgements with those memories in mind, either consciously or subconsciously. Therefore getting rid of that memory is not sufficient to return them back to their original identity; this altered identity will always stay with them. In this report, the experts in the field investigated further in the matter to show that after people have been implanted with a false memory, it will change their behaviour in the future.
Confucius’ idea of the social self can be thought of as one’s public identity. Our public identity comes from the relationship we have with others and the surrounding. In the report, the reporter liked to eat strawberry ice cream, but after being implanted with the false memory that the strawberry had caused her to become ill in the past, she no longer desires that flavour of ice cream.
If we go one step further and assume that she now no longer eats ice cream at all, then she can be changing her relationship with the workers and possibly the owner of the ice cream shop. This changes her public identity. If the implanted memory was something that had a greater effect on her daily lifestyle, as in making her believe that having friends would cause her to get hurt, then no one can say that her identity still remains the same.