Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Bizarre Thought/Question!

I have been thinking about the things we cling to - the memories that have such an effect on us that they become the glasses that we view the world with. The shit that happened to us when we were young, the shit we did to ourselves. Reading various blogs on how people unconsciously or consciously make decisions that they know will bring them nothing but pain and degradation made me wonder why we all react the way we do.

The 'broken' do it out of a sense of self that insists that they deserve the worst of treatments and that every bad thing that happens to them is because of how they acted in the past and that they deserve nothing but the worst and that is all they can handle or ever want.

But what happens when something terrible happens to someone in their past but their brain just wipes it out, except for a few haunting traces? Take for example a hypothetical case of a person who might have been abused as a child or have had some other horrible thing happened to them but they don't recall or remember it clearly. Maybe they have buried it so deep inside that except for a few flashes they don't remember anything else. They don't talk about it or tell it to anyone and even if they ever did, it would be in a passing sentence.

So what happens then - when you don't consciously remember something. When you have no particular person to hate or blame categorically? Does it affect your behavior subconsciously? If one blanks out a certain period in one's life and remembers just very distant glimpses of it - does the past then count?

Think about it if you can't recall the memory of pain or recall it faintly... how much does it matter? As much as you recall it?

If you can't remember what happened.... does it then count?


HollyGL said...

I don't know... I tend to believe that our minds are so complex that even if we don't consciously remember a traumatic event, it still affects our behavior in certain situations. Perhaps we react to something in an averse way, yet we have no clear line of logic to draw from in terms of the cause for the reaction.

Of course, there is also the possibility that those reactions are based on things we are aware of consciously, but don't realize the connection.

At any rate, I do believe that our behavior is impacted by events in our lives whether we remember them or not. Great question as usual! :)

Ingrid said...

I think for the most part people act without knowing why we do the things we do. Reflection on why we do what we do is something that comes after the fact. We rationalize our actions, dissect them, hold the story of our life against the light and try to find the faint marks of our past that can give us a clue as to why we act the way we do. We may find them, we may not. We may think we do things for a reason, and be totally wrong. Our minds can be quite difficult to chart sometimes.

Titania Starlight said...

Personally speaking I think it is a psychological knee jerk reaction for the mind to block very painful memories in order to protect the psyche. But of course this theory is flawed as some people can never let go or seem to recall vividly every single horrid moment of their lives. Also there are such things as false memories. These can be with both good and bad memories.

Anyway, I would say if a bad memory has buried itself into the deep recesses of the brain it is for self protection. Especially if a persons life is going forwards in a positive loving way. Just my thoughts.

Your posts are always so thought provoking. Great food for the mind. :o)

Robert said...

Love your blog site and posts. Glad I found you. What if the individual isn't in control of what they think, remember, don't remember, or express? Why have we all assumed that 'I' am the one thinking thoughts, feeling emotions, in control of my reactions? There may be compelling arguments, there may be memories that seem as such, but is it so? What's the use of pursuing answers to questions when few are aware of who it is that seeks answers to questions? What if we're dealing with an automatic process of the brain that we've given a personal, imaginary image of individuality too? Just a few questions to add to yours. With questions like these, who needs answers!

Random Magus said...

HollyGl: It's a crazy thing memory is. At times an elixir at times a poison

Ingrid: I wonder if we should attempt. I seriously wonder

Titania: That's what I was thinking, the mind knows to protect itself from disintegration. I wonder than if it's wise to probe?

Robert: Thank you very much both for the compliment as well as the visit. I know what you are saying and the more you try to answer one the more involved you get and a thousand more questions pop up. But I guess that's when it becomes true that sometimes just taking the journey is far more fun.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A very deep, thought provoking question, RM. I'll have to give it some thought.

paisley said...

i can't say... in the movies they usually become something awful.. a pedophile ax murderer terrorist whatever,, and then thru careful therapy the memory is brought back to the surface and they are "cured"... but that might just be one of the little lies the writer of the movie tells himself to get thru the night.....

Amel's Realm said...

I've been also wondering what my life'd be like if there are too many black holes in my memory.

This topic reminds me of the movie 50 First Dates. In the movie, there are people who have a very short-term memory. My heart ached when I watched the part about those people. I CANNOT imagine how they live their lives. I just can't!!! :-(((((

However, in a way I think having some "black holes in our memory slot" is sometimes better 'coz we might not like everything we remember. Or we might not be ready to face the truth when the memories surface.

Ricardo said...

I think even if we were to shut out the memories traces of it would still remain in the recesses of our mind and still have an influence one way or another on how we approach things.

As as paying for our past deeds, how many times have we seen good things happening to rotten people?

The world works in strange ways. I just wish it were more fair sometimes.

Alexys Fairfield said...

I don't think it matters if you don't remember it. The problem is if someone else remembers it for you, then you start thinking about it and NOT remembering might drive you crazy.

Very provocative subject.
Btw, you have an awesome blog.
I've added you to my blogroll.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I think it does matter, Amber, because even if we can't remember it now, the effect it had upon us at the moment it was happening left an indelible mark on our personality. So even if we don't know why, we changed a little bit that day (or year). Sometimes I wish we could replay all our memories (since we know there in there somewhere), sometimes I'm grateful we cannot.

Josie Two Shoes said...

BTW, I don't think this is a bizzare thought or question at all, you really do get into some interesting things that make us all think - I love it!

Random Magus said...

Jean-Luc Picard : I'm giving it a lot of thought myself these days...

I don't know paisley really I don't know....if it's possible to be cured once you start thinking about it....

Amel's Realm:
I have a lot of black holes in my memory......

That's what I'm trying to figure do you know and how do you get to the bottom of why you're messed up when there's no apparent reason for you to be so....

Alexys Fairfield:
Thank you... I checked out your blogs which are really awesome by the way....

Josie Two Shoes:
I thank you Josie - it's because you're such a great person yourself that you don't think that... but sometimes one wonders....

TonNet said...

Thanks Diddy who allow me to get here! The memory acts in self-protection sometimes, especially when negative motives are in the inner part of our brain. So, I agree with Titania, mind blocks negative events in order to protect your self-steem or psyque as she prefers to call it!

Though question though! Should we call a psycologist?

Ricardo said...

Random I think the answers to what may be causing you or someone you know dismay are there but the painful part will be trying to recall and confront them. Maybe it was a series of small thing that built up over time. It may not be one big obvious thing but a subtle pattern. Good luck in your search for the answers.

Blur Ting said...

I believe even if you don't remember the details, it still counts because you know it happened and hated the bad memory. You just don't want to delve too deeply into the details. Maybe over time, you will not feel so much hatred but you would still know that you had a bad episode.

Greg said...

Getting straight to the bottom line, the only thing that ultimately matters to any given individual is the present time forward. Each of us has a degree of choice as to who and what we want to be. Some choose to let the past effect them; others work against it. I won't get into the how’s of being someone different from who you were because that is very long and I'll probably cover that eventually in my blog. All I'll say now is that we have some choice moving forward.

With that said, the past only matters as much as you let it matter to you. It will matter to others that were involved to the degree they choose to let it matter, but as far as you are concerned personally, it only matters as much as you want it to.

Regarding memory: You've already pointed out the distortion effect memory has. Or at best the selective memories we have. Whether something is real or not is not relevant to personal psychology based on my understanding of reality. The only thing that matters is the relationship between any two entities. So what matters, regarding who you are, is the relationship between you and that memory, regardless if it is real or imagined. The only situation where you have to answer if the event actually happened is when you want to involved third parties.

So in a case of abuse, what matters to you personally is your relationship with the real or imagined memory of it. If it is already in the person's head, then there isn't much difference between if it were real or not. It has a similar effect. But when you confront a third party about it, then it gets tricky. Then before you question or accuse, you have to deal with the three way reality between the abused, the alleged abuser, and the events in question.

In some cases, you will never know what is a true or false memory. My personal opinion is shit happens. No matter what a person has been through, if it isn't still going on, then it is over. If the event in question is over, then it is not rational to use it as an excuse for anything. There are many cases of people saying if I wasn't abused or neglected as a child I would be different, maybe more successful, now. That's bullshit.

For every person who makes an excuse for there past, we can find another with a more difficult past that has succeeded and will probably credit their past trauma. Yes, parents who raise their children in a nurturing environment probably give them a head start to others who lack that environment. But as soon as the child becomes an adult, all the responsibility is on themselves.

Never taught to read? Either learn or don't. Never taught to eat healthy? Either learn or don't. The responsibility for our lives is our own. The only difference between a child and an adult is that the adult must take responsibility for his or her actions. That's it.

All of us have bad memories. For some odd reason some choose to cling to them and add to them. So what, something bad happened to you or me. (I know for a fact a lot of bad things happened in my life.) If you have the mental acumen to consider them, then you have the option to put them in the past where they belong and move on with your life. You don't forget them, you learn from them.

The human mind needs both good and bad. Whenever we lack one, we make up the other.

meleah rebeccah said...

Yet another deep post Amber. I like how you open up the floor for people to speak up about ideas / issues that are so thought provoking it can take days to construct a comment. (I still don't have the right comment) but, I agree a little with Holly and Greg.

I believe that NO MATTER what has happened in the past WE (YOU) are responsible for how you behave in the HERE and NOW.

BUT...there are times when OUR behavior / feelings are affected by memories. (real or imagined). We can choose to act upon those feelings or not.(sometimes it is hard to control)

Mark said...

Great question. Our subconscious is a huge driver of behavior. We truly do not forget anything, every memory is in there somewhere. I would say that yes, even if we don't remember the event we still have been affected. I do know that we can choose to re-invent ourselves at anytime and that we can change our behavior and thoughts regardless of past experinces. We are not a prisoner of past events or our subconsious. We have choices in the now. We can alter our thoughts and our behaviour. We do not have to carry the chains of our past with us into the now. THe key is to develop awareness.

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Random Magus said...

Hey...welcome to my blog. The question then arises does the mind think about itself? Or is there a higher mind that thinks about this mind? It introspects on itself?

I wonder if one should make an effort to recall or just let bygones be bygones

Blur Ting:
Some people are crazy and they always want to know. Like me for example when I go for a blood test I have to watch the needle. When I had my accident I was looking the other way and till today I wish I could have seen the moment of impact and remembered the details.

Random Magus said...

Some people bock out all bad memories, which I guess would be a good thing. Of course I totally believe that after a certain age you can’t blame your past for your present because everyone is changing and evolving constantly and that change involves the shedding of skin and letting go to be able to move ahead. I just wonder if a person would put subconscious road blocks in their own path or let something they don’t fully understand affect them in ways that they might not be aware off or understand. And if that’s the case why should they even bother. But sometimes one is interested in some things in a purely analytical fashion. Divorced from their own reality

meleah rebeccah:
I know…but I wonder if then they harm themselves in subtle ways. I was thinking about the differences between people who have had shit happen to them in their remembered past and their capacity of handling it as compared to those that had submerged it deep within their minds.

I totally agree and I have seen many people with crappy past just sail past and never look back.

Will do...

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Random,
great posts at your place too
love thinking blogs that invite visitors to comment and interact

QUASAR9 said...

Few of us remember our childhood
Sure we have glimpses of a 'moment' here and there
but we couldn't narrate what we were doing when we were 4,5,6,7,8,9

of course then we started building our teenage memories and experiences, but with time these become distant too ... sure we can remember where we were and what school we were at, but can we even recall the names or faces of our class mates ...

and then time goes on ...
I have to make a conscious effort to remember the cars I had, and to remember the girlfriends and their faces ... and some are just almost a faceless memory

But xould I narrate what I was doing on March 22nd 1992, or April the first 1982 ...hold on, let me get my diary out - lol!

the domestic minx said...

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?