Cryptomnesia

The reappearance of a suppressed or forgotten memory which is mistaken for a new experience.

This term pretty much delves from the idea that no idea is ever completely original. Every story has been told, every possibility explored; new ideas are simply reincarnations and mashups between old ones that have been repressed at the back of our minds. An idea that one may think to be a completely new revelation may be the result of an occurance of the past, fragments and ghosts of memories forgotten coming back to haunt us.

The same theme may be explored in a varying number of ways, however very often, different ideas share similarities. One story may be likened with that of another. Attributes from one form may be shared unintentionally with that of another. This is why people complain that ‘everything on TV is the same’, and this is true. More often than not, new content is simply a new variation of older content. Stories that sell are re-used and adapted. Sometimes this is done intentionally (it is an industry after all), however lots of the time it is completely unintentional.

As explained by Carl Jung,in Man and His Symbols, “An author may be writing steadily to a preconceived plan, working out an argument or developing the line of a story, when he suddenly runs off at a tangent. Perhaps a fresh idea has occurred to him, or a different image, or a whole new sub-plot. If you ask him what prompted the digression, he will not be able to tell you. He may not even have noticed the change, though he has now produced material that is entirely fresh and apparently unknown to him before. Yet it can sometimes be shown convincingly that what he has written bears a striking similarity to the work of another author — a work that he believes he has never seen.”

Trying to consider a moment in my life where ‘cryptomnesia’ has come into place, I am stumped. I guess though, that it’s all about meaning of the word. Instances and memories forgotten have been repressed, only coming to play through the present. The term makes me think of the movie ‘Limitless’, where Bradley Cooper’s character takes a pill and is suddenly able to access the parts of his brain containing the experiences he has repressed over his life. Cryptomnesia is extinct within his mind. That however, obviously, brings with it a whole lot of new problems.

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