I’ve always been interested in memory and there was a time in my life when I wanted to do research on the subject. That was until I realized that statistics was a necessary part of the program. So, I altered my career goals—but my interest in memory continued. How ironic that, many decades later, I would be married to a man with Alzheimer’s. And what I’ve learned is what I suspected all along: that our memories are less exact and less reliable than we’re generally willing to admit.
Did you ever see the film “Rashomon”? It’s a Japanese classic from 1950 that tells the story of a rape and possible murder through the wildly contradictory stories of four witnesses to the crimes. The film deals with issues of memory and truth—if you haven’t seen it, you might want to check it out.
My husband sometimes confabulates—tells stories he believes to be true, but which aren’t. He’s neither deliberately lying nor intentionally trying to deceive. His challenged brain is trying to make sense of his world.
We’re just starting to understand how our memories work. Our brains are amazing and complex, and current research is so exciting that it almost makes me want to give statistics a chance.