Destiny Defined – Cryptomnesia

Destiny Armory Defined entry

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Basic Information

Released: Destiny 2: Season of Arrivals

Rarity: Exotic

Category: Other

Other Subcategory: Sparrow

Affiliations: Eververse

Expanded Information

Memory Bias: In psychology and cognitive science, a memory bias is a cognitive bias that either enhances or impairs the recall of a memory (either the chances that the memory will be recalled at all, or the amount of time it takes for it to be recalled, or both), or that alters the content of a reported memory.

Definition Summary

Cryptomnesia: “the reappearance of a suppressed or forgotten memory which is mistaken for a new experience.” This is a portmanteau of crypto- which comes from the Greek word kryptos, meaning “hidden, concealed, secret” and amnesia.

Cryptomnesia is a memory phenomenon in which people mistakenly believe that a current thought or idea is a product of their own creation when, in fact, they have encountered it previously and have simply forgotten. This is understood to be a form of memory bias in which the individual is not deliberately engaging in plagiarism, but rather experiencing a memory as if a new inspiration.

The phenomenon was first documented in 1874, involving the medium Stainton Moses. It was a part of the wide variety of research dealing with mysticism and occult, which was popular at the time.

The word cryptomnesia was first used by the psychiatrist Théodore Flournoy, in reference to the case of medium Hélène Smith (Catherine-Élise Müller) to suggest the high incidence in psychism of “latent memories on the part of the medium that come out, sometimes greatly disfigured by a subliminal work of imagination or reasoning, as so often happens in our ordinary dreams.”

Everyone has experienced cryptomnesia, due to our current world being so full of information that we are much more likely to forget where ideas originated. Cryptomnesia can also occur when someone claims to have had an original song, melody or beat, but that person actually encountered the notion or sound earlier and simply forgot about it.

Human brains organize memories and details in a filtering process, and the origins of those memories tend to be less important to the facts themselves. Many psychologists think cryptomnesia happens when we fail to register the source of information (i.e., “source-monitoring error“).

Carl Jung, Friedrich Nietzsche, Géza Dukes, Sándor Ferenczi and Wilhelm Stekel as well as Sigmund Freud have all examined the concept through their own works. Most of the research distinguishes between two kinds of cryptomnesia, though often both are studied together, drawing distinction in the underlying cause. The first views the bias being one of familiarity while the second posits the cause being the result of an error of authorship. 

Cryptomnesia was originally thought to be a byproduct of an otherwise efficient memory system. Experiments performed in the late 1980s at SMU, participants in a group were told to take turns naming items in different categories. Researchers later asked the participants to recall the items they had come up with and to brainstorm new examples. In both tasks, most named at least one item that someone else in the group had already mentioned.

Cryptomnesia is now relatively easy to induce. Many social experiments have proven humans have influences on one another without ever being cognizant of those influences. It is noted that, regardless of the influence being direct or indirect, the process of “how we store that information is so much more challenging” in today’s world (Dr. Gingerich).

If you think about it, it’s not very cognitively efficient to remember every single detail of everything that happens to us.

– Dr. Gingerich

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