Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Strange memory returned


I'm a female in my mid twenties. I've had something strange happen to me and would appreciate your thoughts on what is going on.

Somewhat recently  (year ago) my mother and grandma were talking to me about imaginary friends I had when I was little, about 3 years old. They said I would sit in my room and talk to them for hours. There was 2 imaginary friends, one male and one female. They had names, regular ones like John or Susan, but I don't remember their names. Now, as they spoke about this I had a memory come to me, one that I do not remember ever having thought about until this point...roughly 20 years later. I remembered being in my room with my imaginary friends and them having sex with me. I don't really think I knew what it was at the time, but I do now. And I remember it wasn't just normal sex- it was pretty rough. I vaguely remember imagining being tied up during this. Does this seem odd? It seems very odd to me, and is very disturbing actually. The whole memory itself is disturbing, and the fact it *just* came back to me I also find strange. I never told anyone I remembered this. Why do you think this "random" memory happened, what could it mean? Could it really mean anything? Is it possible this really isn't a memory? It really bothers me, but should I just let it go? I can't understand why a 3 year old would be imagining these things.  Any opinion you can give is greatly appreciated.

I've had something like this "flashback memory" happen before. I was older, about 7, and once it came back was unfortunately able to remember every detail, and why it happened. This one though is tougher for me. I really appreciate your response and thank you.


This is not really a memory because it is about something that you did not remember until someone else told you about it.

It "appeared" because someone told you about it, there is no mystery about that.  

So while it is upsetting to you it is not that unusual that when being induced to remember this period in your young life it got filtered" through your older grown up self, distorting memory, by adding some components to the "memory"  that probably does not belong with it.

I would caution you against over-interpreting this because there are a number of unscrupulous mental health practitioners who would make you worry by concluding that this experience you describe suggest that you were molested or something similarly horrible and proceed in therapy to induce you to "remember" even more horrible things.

The only reason to pursue with a trustworthy mental health practitioner would be if you felt that your present life was sexually or socially impaired by something that you heretofore could not guess at.  If everything is mostly fine in your life now, just let it be and understand that scholars are constantly proving that memory is way more flawed than it is accurate and that all kinds of factors from our present situation affect the way we "remember" the pass.

For instance, there is an ironic adage common to criminal defense attorneys which is:

        "The worst witness is an eye witness."


Dr. Elmore  

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Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about: Stress. Headaches. Stress-related Disorders. Anxiety/Panic Disorder. Depression. Psychopathology. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Personal Problem Solving. Life in General. Relationships: Love, Friendship, Business Partner, Coworker, Family,Child/Parent. What makes us tick. The use of psycho-pharmacological agents in combination with psychological treatment. How to deal with evil people in your life. How to improve your outlook under duress. How to control stress. How to control mood. How to control headaches. I cannot answer: Questions about Eating Disorders. Questions about computers.


30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.

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Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, 1979. B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.

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