Mandela effect: when many people share a false memory
Nelson Mandela He died on December 5, 2013 due to the effects of a respiratory infection. The death of the first president of color of South Africa and one of the main icons of the struggle against apartheid occurred in his home after a prolonged period of agony at ninety-five years of age, being picked up by most mainstream media Communication.
However, there is a large number of people who were surprised of this fact, stating that they remember that the South African president died in prison and even declaring to recall scenes of his funeral. It is not an isolated case, but on other occasions a similar phenomenon has been reported in which some people remember things that in principle have not happened. Although there are numerous cases prior to the death of the South African leader, this phenomenon it has been called the Mandela effect .
- You may be interested: "Hypermnesia (almost unlimited memory): causes and symptoms"
The Mandela effect
The Mandela effect was named after Fiona Broome, a researcher and passionate about the paranormal, who would receive with great surprise the news of the death of Nelson Mandela. The reason for the surprise is that Broome vividly remembered his death and the consequences of it , as well as his funeral, many years before the actual death. And not only her, but other people said to remember the same. Subsequently the debate would move to the Internet, where many people would share similar experiences.
Thus, Mandela effect refers to situations in which multiple people seem to remember, in a similar way or even identical to each other, phenomena that have not occurred or that do not coincide with real historical data. For these people, their memory is real and true, as is the fact that in the present they are receiving information that contradicts said memory and this one seems to be true.
Other examples of this effect
Memories of the death of Nelson Mandela are not the only ones in which the Mandela effect has appeared. Other historical phenomena have caused the same effect.
Another case in which the Mandela effect has appeared can be found during the massacre in Tiananmen Square in China in July 1989. On July 5, a Chinese citizen stood in front of a row of tanks, blocking his way . This scene, which would be photographed and recorded and subsequently broadcast in numerous media, would also cause surprise for many of those who experienced the events, which they say remember how the young man would not block the passage of the tanks but it was overwhelmed by them, causing death.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta was beatified, that is to say, turned into a saint, during the year 2016. This fact surprised many by believing that this event occurred in 1990, seven years before her death.
Something similar happened with Mohamed Ali, who continued to live long after a large number of people assumed he was dead.
In fact, even far from historical events of great impact or real historical figures have occurred similar phenomena. Similar cases can be found in movies, music or theater. A very common example that can be found in most people can be seen in the Star Wars movie: The Empire Strikes Back. In one of the most famous and replicated scenes, Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker that he is his father with the well-known phrase "Luke, I am your father" . However, in the original version of the film we can see that the real dialogue is "No, I am your father", having replaced one text with another in the collective imagination.
- Maybe you're interested: "The first 11 symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (and its explanation)"
Attempts to explain the effect
The attempt to explain this phenomenon has provoked a wide debate , arising several attempts of explanation from different theories and perspectives.
Some people have relied on the theory of multiple universes to try to explain the Mandela effect, proposing that the reason for this can be found in the overlapping of time lines of different alternative realities. In this way, what happened in this reality would be combined with that of another, appearing in the memory of the people an event that in our reality would not have happened yet or that under certain circumstances could have occurred.
Further, some start from quantum theory to consider that this effect is due to the possible displacement of our consciousness by these alternate universes. When facing the real fact of the current universe, confusion appears due to the dissociation between what is remembered and what is being reported, being for the subject both totally credible memories.
Within this stream, other people seem to consider that the Mandela effect is the product of the opening of portals between parallel universes due to collisions between particles that occur in CERN. Both perspectives are based only on speculation, and are rejected by the vast majority of researchers in psychology and neurosciences.
Another current of thought seems to indicate that the causes of the Mandela effect can be found in an attempt to control and mental manipulation by government agencies, introducing false information with uncertain purposes.
Finally, another explanation offered by some people is based on the fact that we live in a programmed reality, in which modifications are made from time to time that alter our internal programming and leave traces of our previous state.
Psychological explanation of the Mandela effect
Although the many theories in this regard can be of great interest, this phenomenon it is explicable from the psychology . Specifically, the origin of the Mandela effect can be found in a series of mental processes related to a malfunction or distortion of memory.
The presence of a Mandela effect is not indicative of the person lying about what he or she remembers. For this the memory is very real, remembering as such. However, the origin of this effect can be found in the interference of other information or the creation of memory fragments with which the memory of the events is filled.
The reason for the generation of these memories can be found in the memory is largely constructive, remembering the main elements that were part of a scene and then reconstruct them mentally when we need to recover the memory. Starting from this, It is easy that the introduction of new elements later or interference other thoughts, memories or beliefs may cause a false memory.
Some of the mental phenomena that can explain the Mandela effect are the following. Although they may be present as symptoms of various medical or mental problems, it is not uncommon for them to appear in the non-clinical population. In other words, it does not have to be indicative of a mental disorder.
1. The confabulation
One of the main elements that could explain the existence of the Mandela effect is the confabulation, the phenomenon by which humans fill the different holes present in our memory with fabricated memories , unconsciously. This problem can be observed among others in cases of amnesia and dementia, but its appearance in people without clinical problems is not strange. This type of confabulations are also frequent in people who have suffered a severe trauma, such as sexual abuse in childhood, sometimes generating false mind memories to protect the individual from psychic pain and suffering caused.
Thus, based on a real memory, the individual elaborates and creates different spaces and fragments of memory. In most cases the generation of such fragments is not done with the intention of deceiving others, but the individual believes that his memory is such.
2. External induction of memories
The fact that multiple people coincide in the same memory may be due to the fact that it is not impossible to induce a false memory in other people. In fact, it has been proven that hypnotic or suggestion-based processes they can induce them with some ease. Through the language and according to the type of questions that are asked about a specific situation, the person analyzed can modify their internal perception of the events recalled, as demonstrated by the psychologist Elizabeth Loftus.
That is why when hypnosis is used to recover memories, extreme precautions must be taken in order to avoid the generation of false memories. In fact, there is evidence that the use of hypnosis in cases of hysteria during the time of the Salpétriêre schools produced in some cases the false memory of having received abuse.
- Related article: "Hypnosis, that great unknown"
Linked to the previous point we can find the phenomenon called cryptomnesia, which allows a memory to be experienced as something lived for the first time due to the presence of confusion about its origin. Consider as your own an idea or information that we have read, seen or heard, so that we can identify as a memory something that has come to us through others by confusing the memory of what we have thought or perceived with the actual memory of the events.
With this, a person can identify the belief of another as their own elaboration, so that the expansion of the same idea is possible without it being considered as coming from others.