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Good Idea or Bad Idea: Supressing your Memory

New research came out last week suggesting new ways to suppress your memory, offering hope for people suffering from post traumatic stress disorders. This issue is sure to spark debate on whether it's a good idea or a bad idea to be able to train your brain to forget certain events or memories from your past. As someone who has thankfully not suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, I believe in the old saying "what won't kill you will make you stronger'. But what about you? What I want to know is, do you think it's a...


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LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 10 years
Now I don't have anything traumatic, but I do know that my brain has suppressed memories on its own. It won't be until years later that something random will trigger a memory and I'll go "oh yeah..." I think our brains are capable of doing that until we're able to deal with what happened. ??
partysugar partysugar 10 years
This is so Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless mind!
ManicMauritian ManicMauritian 10 years
Well, I don't know about PTSD affecting memory of the traumatic event itself but I know for a fact that after one particular event 3 years back, I started having trouble with my memory. I can still recall vividly that day but anything that comes afterwards is kind of hazy, I have trouble remembering simple stuff, recognising people (when I used to be real good at it and at remembering names) etc.
nicachica nicachica 10 years
i agree with the sentiments above and all of the "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" but then i think about the hundreds of thousands of women that have been systematically raped in areas such as Kosovo in the 90's and the Darfur region today and i have to wonder... What if you could make that pain go away of having dozens of men attack you and beat you and rape you repeatedly to within an inch of your life right after killing your family and even children? How could you justify giving therapy and support as the only means to deal with it? These types of things cripple women...sometimes what doesn't kill you will make you stronger, but in a lot of these cases, it makes them emotionally dead and practically unable to function. How would you deal with these extreme cases? I'm just not sure...
hexidecimalhack hexidecimalhack 10 years
I believe that it all depends; if something really awful happens to you (that has happened to me, and I'm sure a lot of you others out there) that just shoots down your self esteem, you are better off not remembering it. If it is just something that is embarrassing (being pantsed on the school-bus, for instance) then you should remember it. If just remembering something will scare you, really scare you, the you shouldn't remember it.
StefaPie StefaPie 10 years
well, aside from personal trauma (that is best dealt with using therapy and support from loved ones) this is a really dangerous slippery slope for society in general. the idea of giving someone the power to alter another persons memory just sounds too dangerous. there are too many ways it would be abused. it may be a nice principal, but things that happen to you need to be dealt with and learned from, not erased. where's the line between trauma and sh*t you did that makes you feel embarrassed or just makes you cringe? there's a lot of stuff i'd like wiped from my memory, but without the bad things i've gone through and the ways i've overcome those things, who am i?
katie225 katie225 10 years
eternal sunshine is one of the most beautiful films evar. i think the point is somewhat existential: live with it. the point is to feel, whether it's pain or happiness, you just deal.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 10 years
Depends on the event however I think supressing your memory is a bad idea. I did it when I was like 9yrs old because I remember nothing of an elderly family member living w/ us. I don't like that feeling of not knowing my past. Our past helps forge the future.
candy-apple candy-apple 10 years
muchacha- i completely agree.. i just wanted to clarify that i also know what i'm talking about: i've had a couple of near death experiences as well as sexual abuse at a young age. some of it i'm still dealing with but i don't think i'd like to forget it ever happened. it's part of my identity as an adult and it's also a very rational explanation to how i react to certain things. i don't think i'd be very comfortable not being able to self-analyze and know why i am the person who i am. just a small example of what i mean: it's been proven that girls who've been raped/sexually abused in their early teens sometimes react to that past trauma by being overtly sexual and basically whoring themselves out with random men. it's a reported consequence of what happened, and it's also a pattern of behavior i'd never have been able to break out of and have an adult relationship with anyone, if i were not able to remember the cause of my problems. i guess what i'm trying to say is- of course if i could undo it so it never happened to me i would. but this topic is on erasing something bad that actually happened and i don't think that's a good thing because since it did happen it will have subconscious effects on you anyway- you might as well retain the opportunity to recognize and deal with them. just my two cents. :)
muchacha muchacha 10 years
hear hear fab4.. that's what I'm talking about too! I know firsthand how to tough it is to go through trauma, and then to recover, meanwhile practically reliving experiences through memories.. but I think it's a healthy part of the healing process, and when I see how far I have come - it's worth it!
writerchic373 writerchic373 10 years
There are definitely some memories I'd love to erase, even if its horrible for my brain.
zc zc 10 years
bad idea...its through past expieriences that you become who you are today. you have to deal with bad expieriences properly and not ignore/dlete them...they somewhat influence and determine you...
fab4 fab4 10 years
I don't think God's gonna give me a situation that I can't handle. If I end up going through tough or traumatic times, hopefully I'll come out on the other end stronger, and will use the memories as a benchmark for my own strength.
candy-apple candy-apple 10 years
i really don't know about this one. popgoestheworld makes a good point, as always.. but i guess i'd still like to think i'm able to overcome any traumatic events i've had without completely blocking them out. besides, don't people usually say that whatever you block tends to resurface in an even stronger form, kind of like bottled up feelings?
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
I haven't read this particular research article, so this is speculation based on other research/reading I've done into how the brain works. If you had a traumatic experience, thinking about it afterwards causes almost the exact same brain patterns that occurred while the actual trauma was happening. So you aren't just thinking about the event, you are re-feeling the event, and almost experiencing that trauma all over again. As time goes by, this effect can fade, but doing this over and over would definitely be a set back in getting over a tragedy. My guess is that the research isn't going to teach people to forget altogether that something bad happened to them, but will teach them out to avoid re-feeling the situation. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a great movie, and obviously erasing entire memories that just make you sad isn't a worthwhile enterprise. But helping people recover from killing people in Iraq might very well be a worthwhile effort.
bookgirl bookgirl 10 years
All that comes to mind is "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and how erasing (I know, different from supressing) was a horrible idea. Plus, even if you supress a memory, what's to stop you from being reminded of it by another person?
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