Earliest memory Recall

Earliest memory Recall – How old were you?

Earliest memory Recall

Can you recall your earliest memory? Research suggests that the average age of a single first memory is three and a half years old. The few memories you have from an early age are scattered and unrelated until much older. This has been known for over a century, but still is not appreciated by the general public.

Many people still believe that memory is like a streaming recording. That everything that happens to you, everything you see and hear, is permanently held somewhere in your mind. They think that with the right technique you can recall your earliest memory. This is just not true.

Clients often think their memory is deteriorating, or they worry because they don't remember anything before age six. In particular, people worry that if they don't remember anything from their early childhood, then they must be suppressing something. Something bad must have happened. I have had clients worried that they had been sexually molested. They could not think of any other reason why they had no memories of being that age.

Don't trust your earliest memory recall

The age at which memory becomes more or less continuous varies greatly. Women in general have earlier memories than men. Your chance of having an early memory depends on how startling or emotional the event was. The more dramatic, the more you are likely to recall something, although it may only be a fragment. About one in thirty of people claim to have a memory going back to age one. And about one in thirty have no memories at all before age six or seven, or even eight.

All memory is very plastic, changeable. Research suggests that many memories are in fact false. This applies in particular early memories. For most people, what you think is a genuine memory is actually the result of visualizing what relatives have told you happened, or you manufactured after seeing photographs of the time. Even the real memories that we have are being constantly revised. Almost every time you think of something, you're actually mixing it in with other incidents. You basically remanufacture your memories continuously.

All of these are normal and of no consequence.

David Mason

1 thought on “Earliest memory Recall – How old were you?

  1. Reply
    Elena Iaconis - 2021-01-09

    I remember being vaccinated for smallpox at 3 yrs 5 months old.

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