Another psychic country
At a recent ASSAP webinar I had a strange experience. It wasn’t paranormal but it felt odd. The speaker read extracts from an article I wrote in Anomaly way back in the 1980s. I couldn't remember any of it though the it sounded like my writing.
Regular readers will be aware I have problems with memory. Indeed, I have always had a bad memory. I found exams exquisitely horrible and have always written endless notes to myself as reminders. One key aspect I've noted of my problem is strong episodes of cryptomnesia. I don’t do quizzes but if I catch one on TV I am constantly surprised how I know the correct answers to often quite obscure questions. How can someone with such a poor memory manage this?
The evidence suggests I do actually store memories reasonably well. The problem is my recall. If I try to remember the details of some incident I know happened in my past I just can’t. But if I get a trigger to a memory it will just appear without my even trying. The trigger might be words, pictures, sounds, smells and so on. I think this is how cryptomnesia may work. In the case of quizzes words or a picture might act as a trigger.
Cryptomnesia can, of course, give the appearance of someone being psychic. It feels as if information is coming from nowhere rather than a memory because it appears spontaneously without trying to recall anything. I think the effect may be particularly pronounced in people like me who have poor recall. I suspect I know a lot more than I can voluntarily recall and I can’t get at it until I get the right trigger.
So how do I know my accurate unsolicited recollections are not actual ESP? Well, in the quiz questions I answer successfully I can always see how I might have come across the information before. The answers I get right are usually on subjects I have taken an interest in, even if I can’t voluntarily recall much about them. I can’t usually answer questions on subjects I have never taken any interest in or been in any way exposed to.
Now suppose I went on a conducted tour of a stately home. I may hear lots of interesting facts about the place. However, it's doubtful i would remember many of these even a few days later. Then suppose I visit the same place many years later on a ghost vigil. By then I may even have forgotten I’d ever been there before. But as soon as I see the house again it may trigger spontaneous memories – accurate ones. It may feel like I have a psychic ability, knowing things I don’t consciously recall ever learning. But it is cryptomnesia and I think people like me are particularly susceptible to it. I have an odd feeling I've written about this before.
Author :© Maurice Townsend 2021
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How do I know I’ve seen a ghost?
Expectation and ghosts