A Childhood Memory
".... one of my first memories would date, if it were true,
from my second year. I can still see, most clearly, the following scene, in
which I believed until I was about fifteen. I was sitting in my pram, which my
nurse was pushing in the Champs Elysees, when a man tried to kidnap me. I was
held in by the strap fastened around me while my nurse bravely tried to stand
between me and the thief. She received various scratches, and I can still see
vaguely those on her face. Then a crowd gathered, a policeman with a short
cloak and a white baton came up, and the man took to his heels. I can still
see the whole scene, and can even place it near the tube station.
When I was about fifteen, my parents received a letter from
my former nurse saying that she had been converted to the Salvation Army.
wanted to confess her past faults, and in particular to return the watch she
had been given as a reward on this occasion. She had made up the whole story,
faking the scratches. I, therefore, must have heard, as a child, the account
of this story, which my parents believed, and projected into the past in the
form of a visual memory."
Jean Piaget, in Plays, Dreams, and Imitation in Childhood ().
Reported in Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham, Witness for the Defense