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Flashbulb Memories Explained

Updated on May 29, 2014

Flashbulb Memories Defined

We all have memories. Some memories are unique to our lives and they are vivid while others are slowly being forgotten. A flashbulb memory is "an extremely vivid memory of the conditions surrounding one’s first hearing the news of a surprising, shocking, or highly emotional event” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd 179).

We've All Experienced Flashbulb Memories

The events of September 11, 2001 is an example of flashbulb memory. As an exampled applied to myself, I remember the morning of September 11, 2001 when I first heard the news of the attacks on the twin towers.

I had just walked in late to my English classroom and the television was on a news channel showing the footage of the twin towers.

The room was dead quite, except I could hear my English teacher crying as she sat at her desk. I remember I asked my friend what was going on.

She told me a plane had hit the twin towers in New York and my teacher was crying because her sister worked at the towers or worked close to that area.


We All Forget

My flashbulb memory of the events of September 11th seems to be lacking in certain details. I am sure my memory is not as exact as it was a few years ago.

In fact, “flashbulb memories appear to be forgotten at about the same rate and in the same ways as other kinds of memories” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd 179).


  • Wood, S., Wood, E., Boyd, D. (2002). Mastering the World of Psychology. New Jersey: Pearson.


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