"We know that normally most memories pertaining to events preceding the fifth year are covered by what Freud called 'infantile amnesia.' Usually certain isolated memory traces stand out, like tiny islands. It is not easy to determine whether such memories are really recollections of actual events or are 'memories' of the family legend, kept alive and often embellished and distorted by parents or other older family members, and told to a child at a later age. Such spontaneous early memories are usually 'screen memories,' i.e. condensations of a series of memories which have been stored like a series of superimposed photographs." (Max Schur, Freud Living and Dying, p. 117)
In his paper on screen memories of 1899, Freud argued that the visual images we bring to mind when recollecting early childhood experience are not pictures of reality: they are distortions or screens that allow us to avoid facing what really happened. Freud's central idea -- that conscious recollections are inevitably distorted by a person's wishes, desires, and unconscious conflicts -- became a core assumption of all psychoanalysis.
Freud also indicated that an early memory can also be used chiefly as a screen against a later event, in contrast to the general assumption that an earlier event is screened by a later memory.
insert image from Blade Runner analysis of childhood photograph of replicant....