Most of us have been told at one time or another that children aren’t supposed to remember anything that happens to them before about the age of two. Emotionally painful experiences during infancy will therefore have no lasting impact and the other way around, because an infant does not remember the love the parents give. The truth is every emotionally meaningful experience, whether it is something painful or something happy, it is stored in the memory and has a lasting impact on a baby’s developing nervous system. The way our world feels to us as babies influences our unfolding personality, emotionality and relating styles profoundly, for the long term. There are different kinds of ‘memory’, beyond the stories we can recount and we remember a lot more than we realise.
Within the limbic system of the brain there is an area that is responsible for processing emotions, which include the amygdala and hippocampus. The amygdala processes highly-charged emotional memories, such as terror and horror. The hippocampus processes narrative, chronological memory. The amygdala is mature at birth, so babies are able to feel a variety of intense emotion, even though they cannot understand the content of the emotion and its relation to what is going on around them. The hippocampus on the other hand, does not mature until sometime between two and four years old. Until the infant grows to a child, babies are relatively unable to organise memory significantly in terms of sequences of events. Only rarely does one consciously recall the events of infancy. Therefore we remember every emotion and physical sensation from our earliest days, and even if we have no clarity about the events that took place, these memories imbue the way we relate to each other as adults.( Robin Grille)
IDENTIFYING A CONTEMPORARY PROBLEM/ISSUE
Just as memory can be divided up into the categories of ‘Short Term’ and ‘Long Term’, there are also two qualities of memory which are the ‘Explicit’ and...