Memories... Like the Corners of My Mind

A few weeks ago, Paul and I rented Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet). I had it recommended to me by several people as a movie I would enjoy, and they were right (I love it when people know me so well they can correctly recommend movies!).

The premise of the movie is about this couple, Joel and Clementine, who are in a serious relationship for a few years. Then they have a fight, and Clementine goes to a clinic that erases memories for you. Joel finds out that Clementine has erased her memory of him, and decides to get the same procedure. However, as they're erasing his memories, he discovers that not all memories are bad, even if a relationship didn't work out. It made me think of memories and the role of them in our lives. I like it when movies challenge me to think, and it's especially nice when it can lead into a discussion between Paul and I.

I shrugged the movie off as "something interesting to think about, but unrealistic" until this morning. I saw this article and video clip about a new drug that, when taken, is supposed to make certain memories less poignant. It's rather interesting - having to do with suppressing the adrenaline that makes you remember things ("suppressing" perhaps is the wrong word, but from the article that's my understanding). The obvious benefit is for people who struggle with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), such as rape or a bad car accident. It makes me think of my boss' grandmother who accidentally hit and killed a pedestrian crossing the interstate. A drug like this could help her (another others) able to function in life without the horrific memories replaying themselves over and over in their mind.

And of course the downside - what limits would be placed on such a drug? How about an unconfessed murderer wanting to forget the crime he committed? Perhaps the protagonist of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, or Raskolnikov of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment would have appreciated something like this!

So I'm curious - would you take a drug that could help erase negative memories? And supposing it would be able to regulate the use so only true sufferers of PTSD would be able to take it - do you think it would be a positive thing for them?

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8 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
    I was listening to a sermon on the radio recently, and the pastor was speaking against things that let us escape from this world and its problems and keep us from depending on God. Those things that he mentioned included alcohol, drugs (illegal or legal), or even needing your 5 cups of coffee every morning. I pretty much agree with this pastor, that our culture doesn't want to depend on God to help us face problems - we want to run from them. I know I do. Since I believe in a sovereign God, I do believe that everything happens within His control and will. "All things work for good for those who love God and keep His commandments" (something like that) As horrific as it may be to run over a pedestrian accidentally, as a Christian I don't think that erasing that memory would be the right way to deal with it. But then, as I write that, I'm also inwardly thinking "but thank God that didn't happen to me and I don't have to make that choice".

    And then there's the extreme side that would say "in that case, all pain medications are wrong" etc. and "We need to take life as God gives it to us without trying to make it easier ourselves." I don't agree with that at all. It's a hard balance.

    It seems to all go back to the mindset and heart of the person. What's your point in erasing a memory, drinking 5 cups of coffee, taking pain killers all the time? Are you trying to escape? Avoid reality? Avoid what God has sent your way to help you grow? It's hard. I feel like the Christian life is one big balance beam.

    I guess I got off on some tangents there. And of course my view is completely based on the fact that I'm a Christian. If a non-Christian wanted to erase a memory, that's his business.

    Interesting topic for discussion!
    Susan said...
    ^^What she said.
    beth said...
    Yeah, that first comment pretty much summed up what I would have said. Except that I would have added that going through a tragedy like that is often what brings a person to Christ. And Christians who have been through tragedies are in the perfect position to testify for the love of God to non-believers who are in the midst of tragedies themselves. If those Christians had no memory of those tragedies, how could they bring the comfort of Christ to the suffering?
    Ashley said...
    I agree with you, Hannah. However, I know it's easy for me to say "Oh they should just get over it", when in reality I've never really experienced a trauma like that. I'm curious what perspective someone would have who have struggled with PTSD themselves, or been close to such a situation.

    I really like what you said, Beth, about God using our own growth through tragedies to minister to others who may experience the same thing.
    Anonymous said...
    Yeah, can't help you there, Ashley, since I've never experienced PTSD. That would be more interesting to hear from someone who actually has. It's always so much easier to say certain things and 'have the right answers' when you're on the outside looking in.
    Amy said...
    My bloglines has been missing all your posts, and other blogs I read for that matter. Grrr!!

    Sounds like an interesting movie. The idea that people could have memories erased creeps me out a bit. I think your first commenter summed it up pretty well!
    Nichole said...
    I love that movie!

    I think this is one of those questions you can't really answer: Would changing your memories change who you are?

    While I can't answer that, my personal philosophy on life wouldn't allow me to take those kind of drugs. I think all experiences are good to learn from and mature a person. In that sense, I think our memories do make us a version of ourselves.

    Morally, though, I don't see a problem with such a treatment. My take is that just because sin exists in the world doesn't mean every experience is a direct mandate from God or that you're trying to thwart His purposes by doing other than sitting around, letting Fate happen. You might be stunting your personal growth, but you're not necessarily sinnng.
    Ashley said...
    Those are good thoughts, Nichole. I think it is good to look at it two ways, personally and morally. I probably agree with you.

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