Friday, June 23, 2006

Memory malady

"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it." - by Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592)

Is it not common that we think more about things (or people) we dislike, fear, hate? It is hardly once in a blue moon we remember people who we like so much. Even this remembrance starts with some bitter incident and suddenly we remember this person we like so much and how s/he had acted in the past which had made similar bitter situation whole lot better.

By thinking more and more about things that we wish to forget, we drive it  deep into the subconscious. Once a thing gets into subconscious it lives there for a long time. It is also hard to take out. What is the purpose of subconscious? Subconscious exists as an area to store all that we can not deal at the moment. When something becomes overwhelming for the conscious, it simply pushes it into subconscious. It does for a reason as it temporarily gets rid of the problem. But, deep rooted feelings in subconscious keep raring  ugly head from time to time. It is like something bad in our system that our system is trying flush out but it has to go thru conscious and as soon as it reaches conscious, conscious dwells on it, feels agitated and in order to feel temporarily good, it pushes it back to the subconscious and the cycle continues.

This may be one of the explanation for why bad experiences from childhood impact  for a long time when much worse  experiences later in life do not even bother us. Say, something really bad that happened when you
were 4-5 years old, may bother you even today. But, something even far worse happened when you were, say ,25-26, you hardly remember. Even when you remember you tend to dwell more on that much older experience than the one in the recent past.

During childhood, our ability to bear harsh experiences is very limited. So, conscious pushes harsh experiences into subconscious in no time. As we grow older and experience new things, our ability to squarely face things  increases. With this, less our conscious pushes things into subconscious and more it deals with it then and there. The damn experiences that are there in the subconscious haunt us for long time. Many of us remember chastising and scolding and humiliations we got from elders especially the ones that we really did not deserve or was far too much for a small mistake or was delivered in front of many people which was way too much for us. This is what becomes childhood trauma if it gets out of hand. People with untreated childhood trauma grow up to have all sorts of mental problems. Spilt personality is an extreme case of that. Split personality is not a fancy behavior picked up to look different or escape from legal system  It indeed is a mental transformation and a genuine problem.. Watch the movie "Never talk to strangers" starring Rebecca DeMornay and Antonio Banderas. It is one of the finest movies depicting some effects of split personality.

If the thing that we trying to forget goes only deeper into subconscious, how do we avoid it? Thoughts operate in a common framework. Only way to replace a thought is to think another thought. Power of substitution. Substitute a thought with something else. Use techniques such as repeating a holy name, getting into something physically engaging etc. That's the only way to stop the mind from idling. Shut the devil's workshop for good.


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