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Selective Amnesia February 7, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Random Thoughts....

Selective Amnesia.

If ever there were a wish, that I could grant myself, if not the whole world, Selective Amnesia would be it. The ability to erase from permanent memory, any event, trauma, moments of immense pleasure or extreme pain, at will, without affecting other memories. I know, this may sound like a plot line for a really cheesy Hollywood flick, (addendum : long after I had thought this idea up, and much later after I had drafted the original article that I reworked into this particular blog post, which I finally got around to posting up today, I saw a movie called : “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. I felt cheated that what I believed was my original idea, well, just wasn’t. Anyway, it was a great movie and I’d like to appease myself by thinking that at least one of my ideas made it big. For those who havn’t seen it, go do yourself a favour, and rent the CD/DVD. Btw, the title refers to a line from an alexander pope poem), but hear me out here. How often have we tried and failed to forget things that have hurt us. A dejected lover who, still in love with the woman who walked out on him, can’t get the her voice out of his head. A rape victim, who forever carries in her mind the shame, maybe even misdirected guilt of the trauma endured. The memories of an abused childhood. Adolescent ridicule for being an outsider. Peer pressure. Marital abuse. The unexplainable grief of parents who have lost their only child, which causes a part of them to die on the inside as well. The wreck is total.

Each one of us has at least one such memory. One that we try hard to bury deep within the labyrinth we call our subconscious. A pain – no, something more than that – a cross that we bear, silently; one that we would go to any extent in order to keep from becoming public. The possible applications of this “wish” could be immense.

Please understand, I am not in any way trying to deny myself pain. I agree pain is undeniable, and in fact forms the very basis of our growth pattern. Hurt me, I will cry, but the next time I will be careful when I approach you. It helps us from committing our mistakes again. Response to pain is the most basic reflex action. But, to endure the same pain everyday, once you’ve learnt the lesson, will allow it to fester wounds deep within your soul, until it grows to such proportions that it slowly begins to kill you on the inside.

For years, we have been hearing – the human mind is no less than the world’s best computers. It’s a miracle. Examples, however isolated, have shown us, that the human mind can, if trained enough, process more data faster and more efficiently. I can delete the data on a computer disk. Even the body eliminates what it doesn’t require. Then why can’t we develop for the brain a process that forms one of the most basic functions of a computer and the body. Deleting unwanted data. GIGO. Where is the GO outlet for human brain? And I don’t mean Hypnosis here. Hypnosis is like sleep walking. You don’t erase the incident, you just mask it. If you bring the person out of hypnosis, wham, the pain’s back again.

Did God, or the Force, or whatever you to call the powers that Be, forget this one bit of override mechanism for the brain? Or have we forgotten Or are we to assume that the powers that be WANTED us to live with this pain, and bear our cross either till the end of sanity or life, whatever comes first?

In any which case, till the time Science finds a way to make “Eternal Sunshine” a reality, I guess each one of us will have to continue to bear our cross to our end, and live in the eternal fear of somebody else discovering the skeletons that we so deeply bury in the graves of our conscience.



1. poemer - February 10, 2006

It’s gratifying when you have an unshared hope that comes to fruition through someone else’s machinations.

I’m not sure I’d want to eradicate any memories-even the intensely painful. To eliminate the pyschological remnants is to remove that self-protection reflex. I guess I’m just restating your point. But it’s interesting to ponder.

2. Anonymous - February 11, 2006

hm..interesting post. makes you think,if indeed we were given the option of seletively deleting things we dint want to remember..would we really do it?..i really wonder..

3. EspritNoir - February 12, 2006

@ poeming : i agree with the gratification bit. that was very well put.
also, like you say SA may compromise the self preservation reflex. but, i’ve known people who have stopped growing as humans, or have stopped living, and started merely existing, solely because of some trauma or grief they may hide inside. in that case, up to an extent, the self preservation reflex dies anyway. ergo the option for SA. it allows you to get on in life. you may make the same mistake again, but you may handle it differently the second time around. thanks for commenting. do come back.

@anonymous1 : glad you found the post interesting. i’m sure many would be tempted to try this option out. my only fear for SA with people is, how soon would we abuse it? and that is the only one reason why a part of me secretly wishes that SA remains just a scifi theory.

4. poemer - February 16, 2006

But I wonder: if the trauma is so deeply rooted that it causes someone to cease growing emotionally and merely exist, is SA going to even be effective? And I don’t know if I agree that the self-preservation reflex goes away….it just gets skewed. The person’s definition of self-preservation become altered; only people existing outside of the “damaged” individual’s warped perception see its flaws.

5. silverine - February 26, 2006

But why would anyone endure the same pain everyday ? Even if we have Eternal Sunshine in our lives wouldn’t happiness become boring? Stupid question I know, but a lil bit if this and a lil bit of that would make life just about Perfect.

6. EspritNoir - February 27, 2006

@silverine : i think you may have misunderstood my point. i’m not talking abt having “eternal sunshine” (as in life with no pain, only pleasure) everyday. i’m not looking to avoid pain. towards the end when i when i talked abt “eternal sunshine” made possible, by science i meant making selective amnesia possible. and i wud only advise SA in the most necessary cases, where the trauma is too deep to carry everyday. eg. theoratically, if u’v had ur heart broken so bad, that all you can do is pretend to be okay on the outside, but continue to mourn for the one who loved you even years laters, you will never find love again, unless you are able to forget the earlier person. and its not always easy to forget. and i think thats unfair to the person who finds it difficult to forget. in this case, SA “might” offer a solution. it may not work for everybody, or for anybody, but it could be a possibility. think about it.

@poemer : like i said in the reply to silverine, i dont know if SA will or will not work. but i would like to believe that there is a way to forget certain events. maybe a childish theory, but i still think it should exist. btw, great new work on ur site. am amazed at your ability to put things so well in such an amazing format. DO I? was really well written.

7. poemer - March 12, 2006

You’re an excellent writer with a logical, yet creative perspective. I really appreciate your feedback.

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