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My daughter, Amy, has been telling me of times she felt I was verbally abusive while she was growing up. I have no memory of this. I am certain I am not guilty. Not never guilty. Just not guilty of the times in question. I have been trying to figure out what this is; if it is, in fact, “a thing.” Psychologists have created labels for everything we do, and apparently, all of us generate false memories.

Elizabeth Loftus, an American cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory, is best known for her ground-breaking work on the misinformation effect, eyewitness memory, and the creation and nature of false memories. Loftus believes that therapists guide patients to remember false events by asking leading questions and then telling their patients to imagine an event that might have happened. For example, if a woman came in with an eating disorder, her therapist might say “80% of patients with an eating disorder were abused. Were you?” Then the therapist might ask the patient to think about who might have abused her and when. While Loftus couldn’t definitively prove that repressed memories weren’t real, she could show that it was possible to implant a memory of a traumatic event that never happened.

I wonder if any of Amy’s therapists ever planted ideas in her head?

My daughter remembers losing her first tooth

and she remembers her Cabbage Patch dolls

My daughter remembers the scary clown on her third birthday

and she remembers her Teddy Ruxpin

My daughter remembers her first day of kindergarten

and she remembers the girl who stepped on her white leather Keds

My daughter remembers saying “I wish Daddy could love me this much”

and she remembers getting stitches underneath her chin

My daughter remembers swimming in the ocean in Hawaii

and she remembers her first crush in pre-school

My daughter remembers a beautiful letter from her best friend

and she remembers naming her cats Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire

My daughter remembers saying pupcakes and mazalines and taxiwags

and she remembers singing “Where is Love” on stage as Oliver

But my daughter remembers erroneous acts of cruel behavior

and my daughter remembers her false realities as truths

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Writer and copyeditor. “What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about” ~ J. Wright

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