Memory Making & Personal Storytelling

by Mary K. Clark

Are our memories static? Do they change? What impact does this have in the stories we tell and the stories we live out?  In Greg Miller’s article How Our Brains Make Memories, Karim Nader, a neuroscientist shares his belief that our memories are changed by the “simple act of remembering.”  This research may help people who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Most people have so-called flashbulb memories of where they were and what they were doing when something momentous happened: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, say, or the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. (Unfortunately, staggeringly terrible news seems to come out of the blue more often than staggeringly good news.) But as clear and detailed as these memories feel, psychologists find they are surprisingly inaccurate.

Could we develop a pill that would help people who have PTSD and other conditions? Will what we learn help us in other ways? I wonder about pain, pill taking, storytelling and the value of relieving certain kinds of pain. This research may take us down a promising road and be very helpful for those who have PTSD and other conditions. It, also, brings up questions: What is the relationship of pain to story? If we were to find a way to eliminate pain, do we eliminate some of the need for story? Even humorous stories often rely on a touch of painful truth.

What is truth? Illusion? Your story? The story? I love science, new understandings and ideas and yet I can’t help wondering if there is something more to the equation. Here is a quote that comes to mind:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Additional resources:
Scientists Explore the Illusion of Memory
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury – Healing the Battered Brain
Roadblock on Memory Lane
Memory and Stories: Truth, Tales and Understanding

– Mary

©Copyright 7/21/2013 by Mary K. Clark.  All Rights Reserved.





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