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I Am I by Dolph Kohnstamm|
I Am I - Sudden Flashes of Self-Awareness in Childhood
Dolph Kohnstamm (2007)
My husband has a memory of the moment he reached the insight of how the hands of a clock show the time. I do not remember such a moment, though I did get the knowledge somewhere along the way. There is another insight, sometimes won in an intense moment and retained in episodic memory, a moment in which individuals become conscious of themselves in a new way, a moment of realizing their being an individual person, a moment of realizing I am I or realizing some major aspect of that. Kohnstamm has compiled such recollections from our contemporaries in this book.
He quotes also such a recollection of the early Romantic German novelist Johann Friedrich Richter (1763–1825), who wrote under the name Jean Paul:
Kohnstamm is Dutch. In newspapers, radio, and the magazine Psychologie Heute, he related some of the few records he had found of persons who remembered their sudden realization I am I. He asked people who had such memories to share them with him. He received about 250 replies, mostly from Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. By far, most were from women, and the reason for that remains unknown. Ninety-two of the replies are contained in Kohnstamm’s book, and I want to share a few here, in the Discussion section.