Flashbulb Memories

Posted by Brette in Life

One of the other hats I wear is as a textbook writer, and part of this job requires me to look at a wide variety of textbooks about lots of topics. I was reading part of a psychology textbook about memory and there was a fascinating section on flashbulb memories. These are very vivid memories of very dramatic events in our lives. For example, 9/11 is a flashbulb memory for many people.

This made me flip through my own file of flashbulb memories. It’s almost as if they are a stack of postcards in my mind. I can see each one clearly. They include our wedding, holding our babies for the first time, giving our first puppy a bath, leaving our old house for the last time, a night when we stood outside and could clearly see the Milky Way, and lots of travel memories. There are also sad or upsetting memories: falling through a dock holding my infant son, funerals, opening the front door to see my son holding a giant snake, and times when family members were injured. I try not to look at those snapshots very often!

It’s fascinating that our brains store these memories as still photos. And they are indeed very vivid to me, so much so that I can see a lot of detail in them.

What are your flashbulb memories?

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