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How do you feel about manipulating memory as a therapeutic approach?

Neuroscience now offers hope of noninvasive treatment involving the manipulation of an individual's memories for a host of psychiatric problems. My thoughts are about the repercussions of manipulating personal memory since memories are a huge part of our experiences and shape our character.

 

I you were a rape victim or someone who endured unbearable pain not because of natural causes, would you want certain memories erased or diminished so you could heal properly or quickly?

Tags: manipulating memory

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I know that our minds can shield us from some traumas, would it be that same principle?

To a certain degree, out minds do shield us from trauma.....  amnesia, escapism (into music, art, literature, pornography, and so forth). I certainly wish I could erase my most recent encounter with falling in love with a scammer. I guess things happens for a reason and hence the pain is worthwhile, though at this point, I wish my headaches and insomnia would go away. So no, I wouldn't erase the bad experience. It helps to cultivate my resiliency.

From my experience some memories have been hazy and haven't resurfaced until later in life.  I wonder if that is the way we protect ourselves from things until we are ready to deal with them.

I can understand wanting to forget unpleasant memories when they revive pain that cannot be escaped.

But the lessons that we learn from the unpleasant experiences are nothing without the memories that go along with them.

Yesterday I likened the realization of a lesson learned to the relative comfort of stopping banging my head against the wall.  When I was a child I used to bang my head against the wall when I was very unhappy.  Crying never got sympathy.  Babies cried when they needed changing or feeding.  Almost from the day I was born, when I cried as an infant, it had to be from one of those two. I was told that in the hospital nursery the first week of my life, I was being fed solid food because I was crying inconsolably. I had younger sisters who were always crying about something, so when I was unhappy I banged my head.  Suicidal gesture?  I remember thinking that it would be good to not be suffering with my pain any more.  But I was a child.  I look back on it now and wonder just what I was thinking.  My parents would be out, my sisters would be rolling around downstairs trying to kill each other and I would be upstairs banging my head to make it go away.  I think I finally stopped doing that after I left childhood behind.  My parents split up, my sisters kept at each other, but I managed to let go of my feelings of responsibility about them.  I stopped banging my head against the wall for real. 

Now, when I have learned a lesson, I can stop banging my head against the wall, figuratively speaking.  The ache goes away eventually, but I'm not injuring myself repeatedly with feelings of remorse that I should have known better.  I learned one lesson and there will be many more to come.  That is what life is for.

I am grateful for this opportunity to explore inside my head.  If it makes sense to anybody else, that is value added, I guess.

Baia, thank you for sharing your painful childhood experiences. It makes my complaining seem petty in comparison. I guess memories do serve as a tool for our personal transformation. I think it it that quality of trying to make sense of our memories whether painful or joyful that makes us uniquely human.

Baia,

I read something recently about creating an ephistogram to help people heal. I wonder if that would be a painful experience for you and others such as myself as well. My childhood was a relatively happy one, but my mom had/still has a lot of emotional scars from her upbringing that tainted the way she demonstrated her love for us and my dad.

 

So would all of you here have the courage to dredge up painful memories in creating an ephistogram like the one described below:

http://books.google.com/books?id=0HeP-60VkIgC&pg=PA438&lpg=...

Thank you, Maricel, for presenting the ephistogram concept to us.

I hadn't known about it before, but I had found a lot of peace for myself by doing something similar for myself.  My parents' family of origin issues had a definite effect on how they raised their own children.  The social and cultural values of their time or their birth order or how their own parents disciplined or rewarded them as children influenced how my sisters and I were treated.  My sisters each absorbed her own lessons which were different from the lessons I learned.  Our parents have both passed on, but the regrets over the childhood that was not ideal still immobilizes one of us.  I'm sure that my family is not different from most.

Even if I don't know every answer for every question, I have found a lot of comfort in accepting that my parents were not the adults that even they hoped they would become.  They did the best they could.  They had their own regrets.  It might not have been what we needed, but it was what they could provide. I have forgiven them.  At some point, each of us has to become our own loving parent to remedy the inadequacies that we have identified in our parents' nurturing accomplishments.  Life is long enough to love our inner children and too short to waste it on resenting our parents' deficiencies.

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