A very recent publication of a study by researchers from New York University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai from the same city published the results of an experiment in which rats were able to retrieve memories for events that occurred in the first days of their life. The rats were able to avoid, as adults, an obstacle that they had faced! And which had shocked them, only in their early infancy. Moreover, these researchers have identified one specific protein that activates the memory of the earliest months and years of life, and they found that when injected it can protect against what they call infantile amnesia. At the same time, they show that it really is amnesia, because memory is buried in a distant past, and it is not an absence of memory, which may have to do with an incomplete formation of the brain in early infancy. Therefore, they say that in rats, in any case, the brain does have the ability, from birth, to memorize all kinds of events in the long term, and remember them throughout life.
In going above the head of many requirements and a variety of precautions, that all scientists must take, one can reflect on what would happen if such ability was given to man. That of remembering all the events of his life, since birth. Many science fiction authors have written about it.
As for me, if this scenario were ever possible, it should have several resulting consequences.
First, depriving psychoanalysts of an important part of their work, which consists in bringing back what they conveniently call the “unconscious” in order to feed their analyses of the ego, the superego, and neuroses.
Next, letting everyone know what to expect from parents’ love for their children and love between them, family secrets and other complex trauma and shock that may be experienced in early childhood.
Finally, this will no doubt contribute and will hopefully lead to adults no longer fighting, willy-nilly, in front of their children, thinking that they will forget about it all. And also in being less violent with their kids.
In a more modest fashion, and without waiting for such an early childhood memory to be available, it seems to me that the appropriate adult behavior with a baby is, in fact, from today onward, to behave as if he/she understands everything, and that he/she will remember it all his/her entire life. And listen to them carefully, taking note of the fact that their actions, screaming, expressive gestures, are a serious response to all the messages of the adults around them, who often do not know how to pay attention to them. The childhood of many children would be greatly improved by this simple precaution. Many mental illnesses, many misfortunes could thus be avoided, and many forms of “neurodiversity” would be better understood if we would listen to what very young children say and take them seriously.
And what is more, as I see it, that is the reality: newly born children carry treasures of wisdom, they need to be heard.
Personally, I like to think that, filled with wonder at the profound thoughts shown by very young children, they do not come out of an infantile amnesia. But, on the contrary, what they tell us are actually the last words of wisdom that they remember from their past lives, which abandon them little by little during the first years of their new lives. Therefore, not an “infantile amnesia” but a “rebirth amnesia,” in which early childhood would be as the demarcation between old age and childhood, of the ultimate oblivion of a past life.
Imagination? Perhaps. In any case, humanity would have everything to gain by behaving as if the newborn children were transmitting to us the most precious treasures of the past. This would give civilizations the best chances of survival.