Tuesday, August 20, 2019
A Look Into False Memory Syndrome :: Memory Psychology Disorders Medical Essays
Memory is the mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experiences. A repressed memory is one that is retained in the subconscious mind, where one is not aware of it but where it can still affect both conscious thoughts and behavior. When memory is distorted or confabulated, the result can be what has been called the False Memory Syndrome: a condition in which a person's identity and interpersonal relationships are entered around a memory of traumatic experience which is objectively false but in which the person strongly believes (note that the syndrome is not characterized by false memories as such). We all have memories that are inaccurate. Rather, the syndrome may be diagnosed when the memory is so deeply ingrained that it orients the individual's entire personality and lifestyle, in turn disrupting all sorts of other adaptive behaviors. The analogy to personality disorder is intentional. False memory syndrome is especially destructive because the person assiduously avoids c onfrontation with any evidence that might challenge the memory. Thus it takes on a life of its own, encapsulated and resistant to correction. The person may become so focused on the memory that he or she may be effectively distracted from coping with real problems in his or her life (Loftus 1980, 1997). There are many models which try to explain how memory works. Nevertheless, we do not know exactly how memory works. One of the most questionable models of memory is the one which assumes that every experience a person has had is 'recorded' in memory and that some of these memories are of traumatic events too terrible to want to remember. These terrible memories are locked away in the subconscious mind, i.e. repressed, only to be remembered in adulthood when some triggering event opens the door to the unconscious. Both before and after the repressed memory is remembered, it causes physical and mental disorders in a person. Some people have made an effort to explain their pain, even cancer, as coming from repressed memories of incest in the body. Scientists have studied related phenomenon such as people whose hands bleed in certain religious settings. Presumably such people, called stigmatics, "are not revealing unconscious memories of being crucified as young children, but rather are demonstrating a fascinating psychogenic anomaly that springs from their conscious fixation on the suffering of Christ. Similarly, it is possible that conscious fixation on the idea that one was sexually abused might increase the frequency of some physical symptoms, regardless of whether or not the abuse really occurred.