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Cryptomnesia: when your brain plagiarizes itself

Cryptomnesia: when your brain plagiarizes itself

March 28, 2024

It is quite common to believe that the emotional aspects of people are unconscious and that, on the contrary, the world of cognition is of a conscious nature. However, the truth is that neither cognitive processes such as decision-making and recovery of memories escape the logic of the unconscious.

The cryptomnesia It is proof of that.

What is cryptomnesia? Starting with an example

It is possible that in some of those dead time intervals of which the day to day is plagued you have come to mind, without hardly intending it, a catchy melody that, after the first seconds, you have been developing until composing in your imagination something that looks a lot like a complete musical piece, ready to be commercialized.

These cases are very frustrating for people who do not know how to translate music into staves and do not even have at hand the necessary means to record the sound of the new composition. However, these same people have reasons for optimism. They save having to learn, later, that what looked like an original tune is actually an overloaded and unnecessarily long version of the tune that plays in a shampoo ad.

Of course, these kinds of experiences are difficult to explain for someone who believes that our own memory has no secret for us because, being a subject of the orders of our conscience, can not be governed by rules too capricious or alien to our will. If you are one of these people, you may be interested in reading about cryptomnesia, or hidden memory.

Memories falsely anchored in memory

The example of the musical melodies that you have just read is intimately connected with the cases of involuntary plagiarism that have come to be embodied in all kinds of albums and vinyls and those that do not escape or some famous rock groups. In the same way, certain "evidences" about memories about past lives are not even cleverly devised by a group of people with a desire for protagonism, but situations in which people who theoretically do not know certain past information have previously accessed this information, even if they do not remember it and therefore be totally honest about their beliefs.

In all these events a standard is met: there are memories that have been apparently forgotten to reappear confused with the present time .

All these cases and anecdotes are examples in which there is a phenomenon that we call crypttomnesia or, what is the same, hidden memory. In short, the cryptomnesia in a psychological process by which memories are recovered as if they were original experiences lived for the first time and that apparently have been forged directly into the thinking of the person experiencing it. This recovered information is actually what corresponds to a memory that had been forgotten, although not entirely.

Far above, cryptomnesia can be understood as the opposite of what is experienced during a Déjà vu. If the latter experiences a new experience as if it were a forgotten memory until then, in cryptomnesia there is a real memory that goes unnoticed to conscious mental processes for a time until it manifests again as a new experience .

Not everything is simply plagiarized

What has been explained so far can give the false impression that cryptomnesia occurs in cases in which other people are plagiarized unintentionally, as if the memories that pass through this false oblivion have to refer to the ideas of others or to others. experiences linked to the outside world.

The certain thing is that between the forms in which the hidden memory is expressed can also occur autoplaggio . An idea or thought of its own is perfectly susceptible to passing under the mantle of cryptomnesia, although surely these cases will not be as bad seen as the previous ones.

Cryptomnesia seen from the laboratory

Although hidden memory has its raw material in the great variety of experiences to which we are subjected in our day to day, it is also possible to study cryptomnesia in a much simpler and aseptic environment: the laboratory of experimentation. These investigations usually involve volunteer groups that issue possible answers to an issue that is raised.

In a second phase, the volunteers have to remember if certain contributions are of their authorship or not. In this context it has been seen that cryptomnesia is relatively frequent, and it is not uncommon for many individuals to become convinced that the ideas that others have issued a few minutes ago are theirs. It has even been seen that the emotional state of people can influence the frequency with which these unconscious plagiarisms occur .

So, the next time you believe in power over the processes that govern your memory, remember that both memory and the illusion of consciously controlling it are borne by the unknown: your hidden psychological processes.

Bibliographic references:

  • Brédart, S., Lampinen, J. M. and Defeldre, A. C. (2003). Phenomenal characteristics of cryptomnesia. Memory, 11 (1), pp. 1 - 11.
  • Gingerich, A. C. and Dodson, C. S. (2012). Sad mood reduces inadvertent plagiarism: Effects of affective state on source monitoring in cryptomnesia. Motivation and Emotion, 37 (2), pp. 355-37.

10 Famous Cases of PLAGIARISM (March 2024).

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