On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 1/4

“Memory is imperfect. This is because we often do not see things accurately in the first place. But even if we take in a reasonably accurate picture of some experience, it does not necessarily stay perfectly intact in memory.

“Another force is at work. The memory traces can actually undergo distortion. With the passage of time, with proper motivation, with the introduction of special kinds of interfering facts, the memory traces seem sometimes to change or become transformed.

“These distortions can be quite frightening, for they can cause us to have memories of things that never happened. Even in the most intelligent among us is memory thus malleable.” — Source: Elizabeth Loftus

For an example of what professor Loftus is talking about, we learn about faulty memories from Amy Chua when she discussed the writing of her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

“The book was in many ways a family project. Rubenfeld [Chua’s husband] and their daughters read every draft and tried to reconcile their different memories. The final version reflects “four different sets of memories,” Chua said. “It was like family therapy.” Source: Stamford Advocate

During the debate with Troy Parfitt, the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas, Parfitt mentioned Dr. Li Zhisui’s memoir of Mao to support his opinions of Mao and China.

Parfitt wrote, “Mao’s personal physician, Dr. Li Zhishui (1919 – 1995), a man who knew Mao intimately and saw him nearly every day he was in power, wrote a 736-page biography about the ruler called The Private Life of Chairman Mao. In it, Li describes Mao’s thought-process as “prescientific,” adding that Mao himself was “incapable of love and devoid of human feeling.”

It may come as a surprise to those that read Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao that Li was only one of Mao’s doctors. In addition, he wasn’t with Mao every day he was in power as Parfitt claimed.

In fact, Dr. Li did not become Mao’s doctor until June 3, 1957, and Mao became the leader of China in 1949.

Then in 1965, eight years later, at the start of the Cultural Revolution, Dr Li was recruited into what was called the Socialist Education Program. He and those Sent Down with him were assigned to a destitute village in Zhejiang Province. Source: Around the Bend With Mao Zedong

Another source, Mao’s Last Revolution” by Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, puts Dr Li in rural Jiangxi Province, so maybe he spent time in both provinces during the Cultural Revolution.

Continued on December 15, 2011 in On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 2


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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One Response to On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 1/4

  1. kyle says:

    True, our memories are really untrustworthy.

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