therapeutic forgetting (no 2)
Getting a blast from the past this weekend with wintery weather half way through Spring and I'm not much in the mood to write anything new - so material below is an excerpt from the first novel, Transition Girl. (I confess to editing last few paragraphs to reflect upon recent drivers of my mood)...
It has been a part of modern science for well over 50 years, used sparingly in medicine to treat selected cases. The memory suppression pill only works if it is taken within 24 hours of a severely traumatic event. By the way, you don’t really have the memories erased, just the emotional impact of those memories.
There is no reason to believe the pill could not be used for circumstances that were “unpleasant” but not really traumatic – how many bad days have we all had where a pill might have helped us to forget the embarrassment.
Taken to an extreme, there could be a lot of seriously drugged up people wandering around. Very Brave New World. Self-inflicted dementia for the young and the young at heart.
In reality, there’s a huge difference between having a shitty day and being threatened by a lunatic with a shotgun. While the former can suck the life out of you slowly (death by a thousand cuts), the latter involves seeing your life flash before your eyes with time just meaningless.
Medical experts believe that there is a case for therapeutic forgetting in the latter case and, on some days, I am inclined to agree with them, especially if it means it could prevent a lifetime of destructive behaviour arising from an inability to cope with the damaged emotions generated from the event.
Why give the multi-national drug companies a free kick along when there are far more “socially” acceptable ways of memory suppression - like binge drinking? Sadly, those forms of suppression only provide temporary relief.
Seriously though, are we not the sum of our experiences? To erase part of those experiences would be like making life become an unfinishable puzzle (with several pieces permanently missing). It just seems wrong to me.
Who would want to sleepwalk through their existence? (Actually, there are probably a large number of folk who would say, “I would”, to that question. And, let’s be honest, a serious part of this particular history lesson is strewn with examples of me doing just that.)
What if there was a more extreme choice of memory erasing? Existence erasing? If you have experienced a traumatic event, would you take a pill to forget? If you knew you were going to face a series of traumatic events in your future, would you willingly choose to cease to exist to avoid those events? Disconsolate darkness.
We rarely have the benefit of foresight, only the benefit of hindsight. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like (and may be wish a little) to be a stupid suburban slag that only lived for today – for the moment – who did not obsess about the past and who did not fret about the future.
If I were dumb enough to only exist purely on basic instinct – would life be a whole lot simpler? Does the very process of being capable of reason make life unnecessarily complicated?
I think I might be procrastinating again. I have been contemplating (perhaps bogged down in a quagmire might be a more apt explanation) over the last few weeks what can only be described as a series of philosophical questions about what makes me human and fallible.
If I have a bad day, the reality is I cannot pretend to be happy. For people to ask and expect me to find alternative ways (besides withdrawing, not chatting much, or being more blunt than usual) to “deal with it” so that they can feel better seems a little unfair to me.
No offence guys, but the last thing I need when I am not in a happy place is to face pressure from my peers to be a “shiny happy person”, especially when my peers are perfectly capable of creating a relaxed environment without my involvement. Yet it seems too much to ask those peers to respect my desire to walk away occasionally when I feel my own well being is being detrimentally affected?
I do not want to share. I do not need to share. And the reality is, I cannot share because there is genuinely no one to take my offering in a way that can help me.
A person presenting the “I am here to listen” statement does not even realise that they have not been around to listen for so long because they have been caught up in their own “in the moment” happiness. They have something to do, someone to love, something to hope for. Lost count of the number of days now since I did not feel abandoned.
And they do not even realise how ill equipped they would be to understand such things as the nuances of effects of memory triggers. I have yet to meet any person who actually wants to hear any answer to the question “how are you” other than “fine”. Ignorance really is bliss.
I really need to travel. I’ve been lost in this current fog for a month and a faraway place will hopefully bring some sunshine back into my sight. A break from work in a place on the other side of the world would be an important source of much needed rest, reflection and rejuvenation - a catalyst for clearing my mind of the memories that a too far gone for any relief from a therapeutic forgetting pill. No doubt about it. I need to check out physically for a while. Somewhere out of reach.
I’m not quite at that “fatal error” message stage where the brain is ready to shut down completely (where I do more than just run my eye over that packet of razor blades in the supermarket). But certainly in dire need to run in safe mode for several more weeks before water damage (from the current swirling fog) does irreparable damage.