Third person memory


Installing more RAM in my MacBook Pro

No, not that kind of memory.

Most people see their memories in first person. We see this point of view demonstrated in novels, in autobiographies, we see games to be played in 'first person'. First person is seen as the view from your eyes, characterised by the use of 'I', usually revealing more of someone's thoughts than the use of second or third person — though there are always exceptions.

For some people like me though, our memories are in third person even if we experience life from a first person perspective. Why is that? Is it strange and what causes it?

My life is like a movie

Such memories feel cinematic, but for some reason the camera has fixated on you. You only ever see your immediate space but you see more than what is in front of you. Some could even say we are more aware of our space as we are not only aware of that in front of us but around us, as well as ourselves. You are aware of what you look like to the extent that you are able to reproduce that vision of yourself to see yourself in the act of doing something.

This is strange because I've never been particularly aware of myself — at least, I never thought so. But perhaps it could be that I just don't understand the concept fully.

On the other hand, this phenomenon could also come about as a result of the brain trying to repair an 'incomplete' memory and so rather than recalling something you are reconstructing it instead, perhaps from third-hand accounts and/or using the imagination in order to remove these 'gaps'. In this case, this possibly indicates less of a sense of identity as you are distanced from yourself.

What is a complete memory though? Our thoughts at the time, what we thought we did or were attempting to do — our memories are even biased.

Culture of impact.. Er

One of the popular articles when searching this phenomenon up is from The Splintered Mind, which speaks of autobiographical memory but specifically focuses on the fact that our memories (and dreams) can be influenced by our culture.

For instance in the 1950s, people said they dreamed in black and white, but in our modern society, we dream in colour, so do movies, games and other media cause us to remember as if we were in one? Just in thinking about this though, what impact does culture have on the memories of those unable to see, whose memories rely on sounds or touch?

He also asks if perhaps those without this influence of culture would remember things from a third person perspective. But would they understand the concept of the third person perspective anyway without adequate exposure to it?

Boxes in a class room

Understanding our minds is a difficult task

I don't know if we have been impacted by culture, but a lot of my memories I do remember from a third person perspective. Perhaps it's true that they are reconstructions of an incomplete memory, but a the same time I know that I could just as easily remap out/reimagine the situation from first person if I felt that memory was not 'true'.

Perhaps it's true that I don't have a good sense of self. What other reason to distance yourself from your body than if you did not feel an attachment to it? Yet seeing yourself doing things, seeing your hands doing things from in front of you, seeing the frames of my glasses 'frame' my vision (as it were), seeing my legs under me — why is it all so strange?

I used to live in a world of dreams. I made up my own stories on the way home, retreated back into a world of imagination within my mind to pass the time, where I watched events unfold. I never watched all that much television. But those stories never featured me, I just watched. Perhaps this retreat is a reason for incomplete memories.

This idea of autobiographical or third person memory is still all very puzzling, but it seems important to remember though, no matter how isolated we feel in our problems (whether or not we think of them as problems), we are never truly alone.

There is no 'one' way of being, you only have to look at our bodies and minds. We are all unique in how we look, therefore it shouldn't make sense that there should be any 'point of view' we remember things from.