Life in the Boomer Lane has always been skeptical of the conclusions people reach when they go through past life regression. When one considers that, throughout history, the overwhelming majority of people consisted of the unwashed masses, it is astonishing that so many folks discover they were Marie Antoinette or a Pharaoh in a past life. Apparently, few people descended from the unwashed masses never explore their past lives.
Along with that goes the belief that our earliest memories are somehow significant. Psychology Today just published an article titled “What Our Earliest Memories Say About Us” by Lee Eisenberg. Eisenberg asked people what their earliest memories were. People coughed up some amazingly clear and often dramatic memories from as early as six months.
Shockingly, it turns out that our earliest “memories” aren’t memories at all. They are constructs that allow us to explain the ensuing events of our lives. According to Alfred Adler, an early psychoanalyst who has influenced Eisenberg, they are “a guiding fiction we create about ourselves. The memories we designate as our earliest are the beginning of our long-term private autobiography.”
Eisenberg writes, “early memories are often highly cinematic.” LBL was crushed to read this. Her actual response was “Say it ain’t so!” in itself, a highly cinematic saying. LBL has always believed that her own earliest memory was of being in her stroller, fixated on her mom’s feet as they walked along the pavement, pushing her. The movement took on an otherworldly quality. Her mom’s feet seem to float slightly above the pavement, swishing back and forth in a way worthy of a Fellini film. Not bad for a six-month-old to appreciate, right? And perfect for someone who, to this day, prides herself as having great creative intelligence.
Go figure. Now LBL must contend with the very real possibility that this “memory” was nothing more than evidence she, herself, fabricated to account for her creativity, when, in fact, he true earliest memory was probably barfing on her mom or peeing in her bed. Since these true memories would have indicated that she was nothing extraordinary or, worse, merely a garden variety barfing bed wetter, she suppressed them. It’s another version of the past life regression thing. Its better to be Marie Antoinette (even given the unsavory ending and stupid hair) than to be someone with rotted teeth and the plague.
Since reading this, LBL has revisited a number of her early memories. Could it be possible that she didn’t actually recite the Gettysburg Address at the age of 14 months, fret over perspective in drawing a table at the age of two, or arrange the food on her high chair tray in the order of the color spectrum? On the other hand, she probably did, at age three, crash into her grandmothers floor lamp (which toppled over and broke into smithereens), barf all over her dad after he took her on an amusement park ride, and scream her head off at her first sight of an actual monkey.
In order to test the theory written about by Adler and Eisenberg, LBL asked people she knew what their earliest memories were. Most of them just stared at her. Some people actually said they had no really early memories. They were already of school age when their first memories started. LBL analyzed all of the data of her own research and concluded that she needed a more interesting set of friends.
LBL now invites all readers to submit their earliest memories to her. She will assess them and tell you which you can save and which you must get rid of pronto. She will also, for a reasonable fee, provide interesting memories readers can incorporate into their own lives. It’s yet one more valuable service she provides her readers.