Can't Remember Much Of Your Childhood? A Therapist Shares Why

And no, it's not as straightforward as 'trauma'.
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Ever hear someone talk about their sixth birthday or the Christmas they had when they were eight and think, wait – how can you remember that?

Some of us have a better recollection of our formative years than others. This can be because some of us “lose” those early recollections to sort of free up space – “Having few childhood memories is common. As time passes, your brain has to free up space for new experiences,” Healthline shares.

They add that “you’re also less likely to remember things if they had little emotional impact or if you experience childhood trauma.”

But licensed therapist Jeff Guenther, known on TikTok as Therapy Jeff, offers a different theory; whether you remember your childhood vividly or not could have more to do with your attachment style than it does the level of trauma involved.

What you can’t remember can be just as important as what you can

“There is just as much meaning in what is not remembered as what is,” the counsellor shared.

He adds that if you can’t really remember how your family reacted when you relied on them for support, “that’s valuable data.”

Guenther went on to reference a University of California study which showed a link between emotional memory and attachment style.

“Avoidance was associated with deficits in working memory for positive and negative attachment-related stimuli,” the paper said. “These findings are consistent with the proposal that avoidant individuals defensively limit the processing of potentially distressing information.”

Guenther said that he has found that “to be true” in his practice.

“Most of the avoidant clients I treat have few memories of childhood,” he says – “especially those involving emotional support.”

“This is a sign that they learned early on in life to cram their feelings into a place beyond awareness in an effort to become self-sufficient,” he adds.

Meanwhile, the more anxiously attached among us “remember almost everything. They learn to get their needs met by being hyper-vigilant to their parents’ words and behaviours.”

Guenther then explains that though anxiously-attached and more avoidant partners can struggle to get along with one another, it’s important not to try to play the blame game.

“They’re merely playing out the emotional blueprints their parents left them,” the counsellor adds. “Let’s place the blame where it truly belongs – firmly on their family.”

Of course, we advise taking steps to improve your mental health if your attachment style – or any other issue – is negatively affecting your relationships and/or day-to-day life.

Here’s the full video:

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on