Did I say that!

Values and Conflict


From time to time I have met workshop participants who feel bamboozled by a lack of clarity on what they have purportedly said or done. What can I say? I’ve learned never to adjudicate an issue based on one descriptor. Yet, I think the answer lies in memory.

If you are the logical type, you might believe that memory is like a passive recorder of events. Not so. Our memories are constructed and there are well validated errors in perception that affect what we remember. Magicians entertain by exploiting their practical understanding of flaws in the way the brain constructs a 3D reality from 2D input. I have to stop here and reflect on how remarkable that is. Remember, the retina of the eye is a flat 2D panel and our brain constructs a 3D view of reality from 2D input.

Scientific research tells us that within 7 minutes of an event memory deteriorates and degrades. When we recall something the information is in general a reconstruction of  the mind.

Eyewitness testimony is unreliable. Most investigators and judges prefer hard evidence than eyewitness testimony. For example, what an eyewitness remembers is subject to suggestion and the invention of details. With the right leading question an eyewitness can be mislead to incorporate details not present in the initial event.

Sometimes an eyewitness may even add details to line up with or reinforce the emotions felt during the event. The fancy word for this is confabulation – the brain fills in missing pieces of information subconsciously in order to form a coherent narrative.

With that in mind, it may not be that the person has a vindictive agenda against you or is an out an out liar. They are simply articulating the event as a reconstruction. In fact, both of you are.