Mandela effect: when many people share a false memory

Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013 from a respiratory infection. The death of South Africa’s first black president and one of the main icons of the struggle against apartheid occurred at home after a long period of agony at the age of ninety-five , taken over by the major media.

However, there are many who were taken aback by this fact, claiming to remember the former South African president died in prison and even claiming to remember scenes from his funeral. This is not an isolated case, but on other occasions a phenomenon similar to what some people remember things that, in principle, did not happen, has been reported. While there are many cases before the death of the South African president, this phenomenon it was called the Mandela effect.

    The Mandela effect

    The Mandela effect was so named by Fiona Broome, 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, several years before his actual death. And not just her, but other people have said they remember the same. The debate will move later to the Internet, where many people will share similar experiences.

    Thus, with effect, Mandela refers to situations in which several people seem to remember, similarly or even identically to each other, phenomena which did not occur or which do not correspond to actual historical data. For these people their memory is real and true, as is the fact that in the present they receive information that contradicts this memory and it seems to be true.

    Other examples of this effect

    Memories of Nelson Mandela’s death 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 appeared can be found during the Tiananmen Square massacre in China in July 1989. On July 5, a Chinese citizen stood in front of a row of combat cars, managing to block his way. This scene, which would be photographed and recorded and then broadcast to many media, would also be a surprise to many who lived through the events, who they say they remember how the young man could not have blocked the passage of the tanks but was crushed by them, causing his death.

    Mother Teresa of Calcutta was beatified, that is to say transformed into Santa Claus, during the year 2016. This fact surprised many, thinking they remembered that this event occurred in 1990, seven years ago before his death.

    Something similar happened with Mohamed Ali, who continued to live long after large numbers of people assumed he was dead.

    In fact, even far from high impact historical events or actual historical figures, similar phenomena have occurred. In cinema, music or theater you can find similar cases. A very common example that can be found in most people can be seen in the movie Star Wars: The Counterattack Empire. In one of the most famous and reproduced 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.

      Attempts to explain the effect

      The attempt to explain this phenomenon has sparked a wide debate, Arousing various attempts at explanation from various theories and perspectives.

      Some people have relied on the theory of multiple universes in an attempt to explain the Mandela effect, proposing that the reason for this may lie in the overlapping timelines of different alternate realities. Thus, he would unite what happened in this reality with that of another, by appearing in the memory of the people an event which in our reality would not have happened yet or which in certain circumstances could have happened.

      Outraged, some are based on quantum theory to consider that this effect is due to the possible displacement of our consciousness by these alternate universes. Faced with the real fact of the current universe, there is confusion due to the dissociation between what we remember and what is reported, being for the subject two totally credible memories.

      Within this current, others seem to regard the Mandela effect as the product of the opening of portals between parallel universes due to collisions between particles that occur at CERN. Both perspectives are based purely on speculation and are rejected by the vast majority of researchers in psychology and neuroscience.

      Another school of thought seems to indicate that the causes of the Mandela effect can be found in an attempt at mind control and manipulation by government agencies, introducing false information for uncertain purposes.

      Finally, another explanation offered by some is based on the fact that we live in a programmed reality, in which from time to time there are modifications that alter our internal programming and leave traces of our previous state.

      Psychological explanation of the Mandela effect

      Although multiple theories in this regard may be of great interest, this phenomenon it is explicable from psychology. Specifically, the origin of the Mandela effect can be found in a number of mental processes related to the dysfunction or distortion of memory.

      The presence of a Mandela effect does not indicate that the person is lying about what they remember. For that, memory is very real, and there is memory as such. However, the origin of this effect can be found in the interference of other information or in the creation of memory fragments with which the event memory is full.

      The reason for the generation of these memories can be found in the fact that the memory is largely constructive, remembering the main elements that were part of a scene and mentally reconstructing them when we need to reclaim the memory. From now on, it’s as easy as introducing new elements a posteriori or interfering with other thoughts, memories or beliefs can cause a false memory.

      Some of the mental phenomena that can explain the Mandela effect are as follows. Although they can 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 shouldn’t be a sign of a mental disorder.

      1. The conspiracy

      One of the main elements that could explain the existence of the Mandela effect is conspiracy, the phenomenon by which humans we fill the various gaps in our memory with fabricated memories, Unconsciously. This problem can be observed among others in cases of amnesia and dementia, but it is not uncommon for it to appear in people without clinical problems. Such conspiracies are also common among people who have suffered severe trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, sometimes generating false memories in the mind to protect the individual from the mental pain and suffering caused.

      Thus, from a real memory, the individual develops and creates different spaces and fragments of memory. In most cases, the generation of these fragments is not done with the intention of deceiving others, but the individual himself believes that his memory is such.

      2. External induction of memories

      The fact that several people correspond to the same memory may be due to the fact that it is not impossible to induce a false memory in other people. In reality, hypnotic or process-based processes have been shown to suggestions they can induce with some ease. Through language and depending on the type of questions asked about a specific situation, the analyzed person can change their internal perception of the recalled facts, as psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has demonstrated.

      This is why when hypnosis is used to retrieve memories, extreme care must be taken in order to avoid the generation of fakes. Best regards. In fact, there is evidence that the use of hypnosis in cases of hysteria at the time of the Salpêtrière schools in some cases produced the false memory of having been abused.

        3. Cryptomnesia

        Related to the previous point, we can find the phenomenon called cryptomnesia, which allows a memory to be experienced as something experienced for the first time due to the presence of confusion as to its origin. We take as our own an idea or information that we have read, seen or heard, so that we can identify as memory something that has come to us through others by confusing the memory of what we have thought or perceived with memory . facts.

        With this, a person can identify other people’s beliefs as their own elaboration, so that it is possible to expand the same idea without it being seen as coming from others.

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