Students Take Trip Back In Time To Hone Into Childhood Memories

By Seferina Limones

Staff Writer

“The Effects of Childhood Memories” was much more than just this month’s Open Book Project discussion. Led by Dr. Julie Perez, this discussion evoked a range of powerful emotions from the 22 people in attendance.
The discussion began with an explanation of the different kinds of memories that people have, ranging from episodic memory to semantic memory. An in-depth breakdown of the different kinds of memories led to a brief focus on childhood amnesia and the development of false memories.
Parents and those around us give us a background of what happened before we were old enough to develop our own memories, thus prompting us to develop false memories. For example, children involved in a trial about potential sexual abuse had begun to develop these false memories in order to fulfill what was being asked of them.
“Let’s say there’s a child who was sexually molested, but instead of repressing the memory, made themself believe it was a false memory and then as they grew up didn’t know if it was a false memory or a repressed memory,” one student proposed.
Perez’s answer included the thought that many people are actually like this, unsure of the truth. She said people are influenced by what they read and hear, causing them to question whether or not this kind of thing actually happened to them.
This helped transition to the next part of the discussion: flashbulb memory, or memories that are emotionally filled. One can  remember what happened and where they were as though it had happened just minutes before. Some of the flashbulb memories mentioned by students and professors included the verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995, the explosion of NASA Challenger in 1986, and the assassination of JFK in 1963.
With all of the chatter about these memories, Perez led the group into the exercise everyone was anticipating. In a sort of hypnotic exercise, the participants were told to think about a specific moment in their childhood, positive or negative, and find their caretaker in this “past world.” Students responded to this exercise with facial expressions as though they were having a real conversation, tears as though they had a breakthrough, and snoring, for those who were too relaxed.
Student Thomas Burns went back to a time when everyone was wearing sweaters and said the happiest memories from his childhood were during the cold weather season, when his family would spend the most time together during school vacations.
All in all, this month’s Open Book event was much more than a discussion on text. It was an experience that in one way or another made an impact on its participants.