Of the childhood memories that have been retained a few strike us as perfectly understandable, while others seem odd or unintelligible. It is not difficult to correct certain errors regarding both sorts. If the memories that a person has retained are subjected to an analytic enquiry, it is easy to establish that there is no guarantee of their accuracy. Some of the mnemic images are certainly falsified, incomplete or displaced in time and place. Any such statement by the subjects of the enquiry as that their first recollection comes from about their second year is clearly not to be trusted. Moreover, motives can soon be discovered which make the distortion and displacement of the experience intelligible, but which show at the same time that these mistakes in recollection cannot be caused simply by a treacherous memory. Strong forces from later life have been at work on the capacity of childhood experiences for being remembered - probably the same forces which are responsible for our having become so far removed in general from understanding our years of childhood.
……Furthermore it contradicts all that we have learnt to suppose that in his experiences a child’s attention is directed to himself instead of exclusively to impressions from outside. One is thus forced by various considerations to suspect that in the so-called earliest childhood memories we possess not the genuine memory-trace but a later revision of it, a revision which may have been subjected to the influences of a variety of later psychical forces. Thus the ‘childhood memories’ of individuals come in general to acquire the significance of ‘screen memories’ and in doing so offer a remarkable analogy with the childhood memories that a nation preserves in its store of legends and myths.