Selective memory

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by tracecom, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. tracecom

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    If you could consciously decide what to remember and what to forget, would that be a good thing?







    If, once you made that decision about a given thing, you could never change it, would it still be a good thing?
     
  2. #12

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    Yes. There are certain things I would prefer to forget forever, just for my own reasons, like the feel of breaking bones just before you faint. There are some things that must be held in privacy. For those, I choose to forget who told me, and it works very well.

    Selective memory is actually a proper function of our brains, but you asked about choices.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  3. Georacer

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    I think it's a very cowardly thing to want to forget. Your memories are what you achieved and the burden you carry.
     
  4. tracecom

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    If you suffered a debilitating physical injury, would you consider it cowardly to have it repaired? If not, then why would you think it was cowardly to forget a debilitating psychological injury? :)

    It is said that spousal abusers are often offspring of spousal abusers, and one theory is that they learned this behavior as children. Wouldn't it be better if they were able to forget the memories of seeing their parents abuse each other?
     
  5. Georacer

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    No. I think everyone should be held responsible for their choices. If someone had memories removed, either by choice or by force, then the choices he would make in the future would be artificial and the result of manipulation.

    In our society we value wisdom and experience very much. I think this is for good reason. Wise men have experience a great deal and have a grasp of history and past events, both good and bad. Because they hold this knowledge, they are in a position to make the best choice when the time arises.

    If we shed the bad things away, then this false perception of the past can lead us to repeat mistakes and be irresponsible in our choices.

    An example. A careless driver causes a fatal accident to a bystander. Granted, the driver is scarred by guilt and remorse, but wouldn't it be the responsible, mature and just thing for him to remember the accident he caused and be more careful in the future?

    Another example, based on another read of your example. If a young boy experiences the abuse of his mother by his father and witnesses her anguish, then when he grows up, this experience should teach him not to treat his wife in the same way. He has had his counter example, so he can't be held unaccountable due to ignorance when he disregards his wife's will and mistreats her.
     
  6. bountyhunter

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    Unless they are inflicted onto you like the victims of violent crime.

    Recent research shows that adrenaline is the "glue" that locks memories in permanently so you are forced to remember severely traumatic events. Some victims of violence have been given beta blockers (like propanolol) after they are attacked to block the effects of the adrenaline and not have the memories lock in.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/1745462/posts
     
  7. Georacer

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    But isn't that too similar with taking drugs to "forget what the cruel life threw at you"?

    Where would one stop forgetting? Would you want to forget a humiliating beat up in high-school? Being fired from work? A cheating wife?

    What kind of pampered, half-hearted and fake life would that be?
     
  8. #12

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    How about if the careless driver only cripples the bystander for life? Do you think the responsible and mature thing is for the bystander to remember the impact and the bones breaking? Will that make the careless driver more careful in the future?

    Is this what you really want for me to remember vividly for the rest of my life? The feeling of the bones breaking? The months in the hospital? The years on crutches? Isn't the day to day pain and struggle of just walking enough punishment for the bystander?
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013
  9. tracecom

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    I didn't mean for this thread to be painful for anyone...more of a sci-fi thing. I am sorry if it is hurtful.

    My theory is that I only have room for a certain number of memories. At my age, if I learn something new, something old falls off the back of the shelf. So I would like to choose what to forget. For example, I still remember my telephone number from 60 years ago and my street address from that same time period. I could do without those two facts, and maybe make room for some datasheet numbers. :D
     
  10. Georacer

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    I see that you are talking out of personal experience, so you probably have more sound arguments, but this is mine:

    You want to forget the moment that the car hit you. How will that be of help to you? It won't bring your foot back.

    Thinking more deeply into it, I acknowledge that there are traumatic experiences that cripple people and lead them to ask for professional help to cope with them. Still, given how weak people are, I fear that given the power to forget at will, they will reduce their lives to a fake, glittery fairy-tale, where they will wonder endlessly why such a beautiful past led to such a horrible present.

    I hope it is obvious that I don't have the answer to your last question.
     
  11. #12

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    Geo, I think you are assuming people would abuse the ability to permanently forget in a wholesale fashion, and that would be a mistake. However, a certain percentage of people would make that mistake if they could. There would be a certain amount of happy idiots, some miserable idiots, and everything in between. That doesn't mean intentional forgetting does not have a proper use.

    I still remember my address and phone number from 1956. They don't seem to be hurting anything, and I mean they probably aren't taking up the space I should have used to remember calculus. I would like to forget about a dozen things, but that wouldn't make me any sort of an idiot.

    In specific, I would like to forget the feeling of bones breaking, the nightmares caused by using ether for a surgical anesthetic, and a few embarrassing moments like wetting my pants in kindergarten. My mind does not instantly go for, "ignorance is bliss". The fact that yours does is a bit alarming to me. I'd just like to take out a few horrible moments that aren't doing anybody any good.

    And tracecom, your theory of limited RAM is balony. If it was true, algebra would have kicked out your first phone number, or possibly even potty training.:eek:

    The human mind already has built-in memory deleting. It has recently been referred to as, "plasticity". Your brain adapts constantly until it suffers serious disease or death. Whatever you have been doing this year is much more polished than the skills you were using 20 years ago. The way I picture it is, any person that has been practicing a particular skill set for the last few years is better at those skills than I am today, simply because they have been polishing those skills recently. I could be a top notch plumber or a fairly good lawyer, but I haven't been using those skills lately, so most of them have faded badly. That doesn't mean that learning how to teach beginner electronics kicked them out, it just means my brain adapted to the way I chose to use it lately.

    I don't think about painful moments, as much as possible. That lets them fade. Therefore, I am actively choosing selective amnesia on a daily basis. It's actually a healthy thing to do compared to nursing grievances or rehearsing my failures. Let's call it living in the present moment. Today, I am here. I am present at this keyboard and I am thinking new thoughts. A million events are in the past and a million moments are in my future. Today, I am polishing the skills I find interesting or necessary, forgetting a lot of things that aren't, and both of these are intentional.
     
  12. Wendy

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    I seem to remember a several new drugs that will help attenuate memories selectively, they are good for post traumatic stress. If a memory drives someone to commit or attempt suicide, it is a burden, not a blessing.

    It is what the movie "Sun Shine of the Spotless Mind" is based on though (the drugs, not the PST).
     
  13. tracecom

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    Well, that solves one mystery that has been plaguing me, but at least I still remember that phone number. :D
     
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  14. killivolt

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    A long these lines, an interesting conversation happened one day, not long ago.

    #12 as you seemed to say, you have moved on by placing your future ahead of your past, which has helped me also. In any event, I was speaking to one of my friends, a Psychology Professor, I entered the conversation quite by accident, he was telling someone about a new procedure that involved " Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome" a lot of military folks are in stress and are having attacks.

    He spoke of an interesting therapy, I thought it strange at the time, however people are told to recall the offending memory, while they do, the Therapist will deliberately move a pencil or object in front of their eye's from right to left telling them to watch it. what he say's happens, the brain is forced to use both hemispheres.

    An emotional response goes from the left to the right and is met with logic and reasoning. This brings their anxiety level down, if this is repeated and repeated the brain will begin to accept they are no longer in danger and will allow the mind to move on.

    I'm not saying it's forgotten and neither did the Professor, however a diminishing effect is achieved without drugs, I think when we reinforce things through emotions, it will embed those thoughts, reinforced by feelings.

    I thought about it a bit, an interesting thing happened to me once. Someone told me about the spinning lady. Right and Left Brain activity then I remembered that I couldn't see it move in the direction some see it, rather it was when someone asked me about a Math formula that I began to tell them without looking away at the lady. Suddenly she began to spin in the opposite direction. There are other ways to do it. But, I thought to myself maybe there is some real merit to the therapy.

    Edit:Try to make up an imaginary tale while watching the Spinning Dancer, every time you imagine something she will spin in the opposite direction. If you just repeat something you have memorized without any left brain or right brain influence she will not do anything, it's only when your using both hemispheres.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  15. nsaspook

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    Some memories are just horror and I wouldn't mind them being erased. I don't need the burden of seeing and remembering dead women and children in a burned out boat off the coast of SE Asia during the boat-people exodus in the 70's and having to machine-gun what's left to sink it or handing out bags of rice to rail thin people who were too weak to even eat. As therapy, I've been invited to talk to students in my kids classes when they were younger to unburden my feeling. It helped a lot but some memories are just a dark pit that you try to not look into.
     
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  16. strantor

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    Tracecom, did you recently watch Total Recall? I did, just last night, and it sent me down a similar thought path. It is often said that we are the total of our memories. Experiences shape us into who we are. Do you believe that? I don't know really. It makes me curious about people who experience amnesia. After losing all their memories, do their values, fears, and vices change? Are they a "clean slate"? Or is personality part of us on a level other than memory? Having watched my daughter from birth to 2 y/o, I think that personality is separate from memory. Nobody taught my daughter to act in her unique way. And nobody taught me to act in mine. I probably emphasize or repress some facets of myself as a learned behavior from my experiences, but I wonder to what degree, and if my memories were erased, if it would change.
     
  17. killivolt

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    Your not addressing me but.

    Depending on our experiences, events can create a paradigm shift, one way or the other. I said after my 2 clinical deaths and after other near death experiences, I promised to change my life.

    The last one, I did, when I chose actions in a car accident (Not my or the other drivers fault, it just happened on a wet lonely road, they fell asleep at the wheel, life happens.) in an the effort to save someone else's life, in a forfeiture of my own, it was planned an executed to detail, including a miracle or GOD moment to help. After that, I did change for the better, from an angry biter person. I won't go into detail but, yes it can.

    Edit: The best part we are a live and I only received 27 stitches to my temple area. She had 2 cuts on the lower and upper of both eye's. The doctors say most people at least one dies in that intersection. It's a freeway with a road intersecting it, from one side of the town to the other. I was on the freeway. She took her foot of the brake pedal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  18. #12

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    It worked. I started with a memory about the activities of a person on a certain day. As soon as I pretended to remember an activity that did not happen, a fictional moment, the direction reversed.

    Cool!
     
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  19. killivolt

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    Right, you can feel the brain shift. It's so weird.

    I couldn't have imagined "that" either.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  20. Georacer

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    This is one of the worse cases where I think people should not forget at any costs. These people have suffered in inhuman ways, beyond any reason. If the only people who witnessed those sufferings, then who will stand up to prevent them again, when history makes full circle and the time comes when people suffer again?

    I don't have much more to add to this conversation, really. The only argument I support without hesitation is that I don't know of any way to discern between harmful and useful (even not apparently) memories.

    #12, if you are suffering because of your past accident, I wholeheartedly wish this suffering ends soon.
     
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