Are flashbacks true memories?

This has been on my mind for quite awhile now. My PTSD is caused by severe childhood abuse that ended many years ago. I started having flashbacks a few years ago and am wondering if they are true memories? Some of my abuse happened when I was very young, and I do have some gaps in my memory. I find it all a wee bit confusing.

Thank you

9 Replies

  • I know for me flashbacks were real. I not only had vivid visual but body memory also. I had to remind myself it was a memory and over which helped. Eventually they became weaker and less powerful.

  • The flashbacks were certainly real for me, Ang37. My body and mind were trying to tell me something. I had "buried memories" as they call it in some programs, and they were trying to surface. Sometimes the trigger for a flashback was a gesture or words that happened at the time of the abuse.

    It sure was confusing for me. It's like I had flashes of a life that I never knew I had. I always compare it to The Bourne Identity, where he can't remember, but has flashes of events from a past he doesn't remember.

    Every time the memory surfaced - it was a relief in a way - because no matter what the buried abuse, it explained so much about my world. My responses to life were normal for what I had been through.

  • I still struggle with flash back and it is for real and I my body still struggle to learn how to cope with it .when I was 5 and 6. I still get confused about what thinks happen to me . sometimes I get flash back and it hurts each time I get flashback

  • I'm sorry your going through it big hugs

  • Yes.

    A flashback feels like you are in the past and maybe the present at the same time - as if you are watching two movies on the same screen at the theater. It's intense and scary. It's a memory that's so strong it's been stuck in the in-tray and never filed.

    An intrusive memory is like a movie in your head that you don't seem able to switch off. It's clear it's just a memory and not now. It's less intense than a flashback but not fun.

    I was dealing with intrusive memories yesterday after chatting with a friend about mundane stuff but it triggered me.

    Horrible memories that appear like this are parts of us that have broken off and become separated from our core - like chips off a bone.

    They are not fun but if you learn not to be scared of them they become less bad over time.

    I have memory gaps and sequencing issues too. Sometimes they get filled in, sometimes not. These gaps can be a gift - some things may be best forgotten.

    It's quite common around here.


  • Ang37,

    My flashbacks are real memories.

    It took me a while to figure out which nightmares were real memories while others repeated a theme from my abuse. I've also had precursors nightmares which tell me a memory nightmare is about to surface or flashbacks.

  • My flashbacks are also real memories. I often find trouble processing them though and wanting to accept them. I also was abused as a young child and its amazing what are brains are capable of covering least it seems... I have a lot to learn and a long ways to go...and it scares me when all of a sudden I remember something new and am taken back. I wish I had more words of wisdom bit for now just wanted to echo the Same feelings and show some support in your journey. Hang in there, and try to accept the information as it comes up...that can be tough. Sorry you are going through this!!

  • I'm sad for everyone else who is going through this, but in a way, it helps to know that I'm NOT alone. I have flashbacks alot - some days are worse than others, of course, but the intrusive memories are the worst for me - because my body also seems to reproduce the sensations of the bruises that my Ex's mother gave me when she beat me up. I KNOW the bruises are gone, but it still FEELS like they are there.

  • Yep, memory includes the physical sensations. Not fun.

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