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Rather Not Remember? You Can Fuggedaboudit!

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by batgirl, Jul 17, 2007.

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  1. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Want to forget something? Just let your brain know. New research suggests that people can push out memories, even highly emotional ones, simply by deciding to do so.

    The researchers believe the new findings will help scientists understand disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, in which the brain's mechanism of suppressing unwanted memories may be dysfunctional, said lead author Brendan Depue, a graduate student in neuroscience and clinical psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    But many experts are wary of linking the findings -- published today in the online journal Science -- to debilitating disorders like PTSD. They believe the mind developed to actively forget some memories to keep from cluttering the brain with unpleasant memories and irrelevant information, like unnecessary phone numbers. But highly emotional memories may never be forgotten. "We have these mechanisms to try to stamp out and suppress these things when we want to try to avoid uncomfortable thoughts. On the other hand, we do know that very serious emotional memories are, in general, very remembered," UC Berkeley psychologist Art Shimamura said.

    Stanford psychologist Anthony Wagner said the findings help explain how the brain works to forget some things and not others. Specific areas of the brain are used in order to help us forget. The front of the brain, which controls impulses and helps plan actions, is the most evolved in humans. The scientists involved in the study reported that this region can also guide whether memories survive, depending on a person's efforts to remember or forget. "The study basically shows that individuals have the ability to suppress memory by what we in neuroscience call cognitive control -- an individual's ability to guide behavior," Depue said.

    In cases of PTSD and obsessive-compulsive disorder, a memory or impulse gets in the way of an individual's social behavior. Depue said the new findings may help scientists understand how the brain normally suppresses a memory and why that is not happening in these disorders.

    The researchers asked 16 people to look at two pictures at once: a disturbing image, such as a car accident or a badly wounded soldier, and a neutral face. An MRI was used to image the participants' brains as they later looked only at the faces. At some points, they were told to remember the disturbing image they had viewed earlier along with the face; at other times, they were told not to recall the image.

    Areas of the brain that control behavior and personality lit up with activity when the participants were told to forget an associated image, Depue said. This told the researchers that the front of the brain works actively even while trying to forget something.

    Afterward, the participants were shown the faces and told to write down which images were paired with them. People were able to forget the disturbing image with repeated trials about 50 percent of the time. "At first, you can't successfully suppress (the memory)," Depue said. "After repetition of the items, you get control of them. In the end, there is actually suppression."

    Dr. Thomas Neylan, a PTSD expert at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said training in memory suppression is not the goal of treatment in many disorders. "Effective treatment (in PTSD) is to promote a new form of learning," he said. "When a person retrieves the memory of the trauma, they no longer associate it with all the same feelings of fear and arousal. With repetition, they are no longer as aroused, upset or angry. That process involves a new form of learning, not memory suppression."

    Shimamura and others also cautioned that the study may support the idea that the brain can suppress a memory, but does not address memory repression, where a memory may be so traumatic it is kept from forming. That belief, held by Sigmund Freud, is the center of a hugely controversial debate in a century's worth of psychology, Depue said.

    Source: Kavita Mishra, San Francisco Chronicle
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  3. goingonhope

    goingonhope Member Premium Member

    Folks With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Shouldn't Suppress Memories

    July 25, 2007

    Soldier's Heart Dir., Veterans Safe Return Initiative, Albany and Troy

    Folks With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    Shouldn't Suppress Memories

    "Study: Bad Memories Can Be Suppressed" (July 13) declares that scientists have discovered that people can actively suppress bad memories by choosing not to think about them, and that this "finding could lead to improved therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder."

    As a specialist in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans and civilians, I want the public to know that this small article indicates potentially disastrous consequences if its beliefs and practices are put into effect.
    Scientists have not newly discovered through brain scanning that bad memories can be suppressed and that people do so after trauma. The suppression of painful memories has been studied in the Western world at least since ancient Greece.
    In the modern era Freud documented two kinds of forgetting -- conscious forgetting is suppression; unconscious forgetting is repression. Ancient and modern psychology both teach that people forget disturbing events as a normal defense against emotional pain. Knowledge of this mechanism is nothing new, though perhaps taking brain pictures of it is.

    Psychologists from ancient and modern times also demonstrate the dangers of pushing bad memories out of your mind. If we consciously or unconsciously push bad memories away, they do not go away and stop bothering us. Rather, suppressed memories turn into other uncomfortable symptoms as they attempt to come back to the person's mind.

    Thus, if I refuse to remember a traumatic event, I may have nightmares about it; it may turn into physical illness; it may drive me to dangerous, addictive or violent behaviors. Teaching people to purposely forget in fact harms rather than helps. The memories keep coming back as their way of demanding helpful attention.

    The path to healing is in remembering our true events, recovering our numbed feelings about them, and giving meaning and purpose to the events, no matter how painful they originally were.

    This can be and is done through good psychotherapy and other healing modalities. There is no quick fix or magic answer through medications or mind-control.

    There is much hope and healing through wise, caring and honest treatment that invites true stories, no matter how painful, to come out of hiding.

    Source: Times Union, Albany - NY - Opin. Sect.
  4. goingonhope

    goingonhope Member Premium Member

    Hi Evie,

    Do hope you don't mind me adding this within this thread, as I found the article directly related and the whole subject of both "Rather Not Remember? You Can Fuggedaboudit!" and "Folks With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Shouldn't Suppress Memories," Most Interesting!

    Thank you Evie, for taking your time, posting and sharing so many great PTSD-related news articles.

    This World PTSD, News sect. is now among others, one of my pers. favorites sections to read.

    Take Care, Evie

  5. Kathy

    Kathy I'm a VIP

    Evie is taking an extended break from the forum at the moment, she likely won't be back online until sometime in September or perhaps even later. However thank you Hope, I do so appreciate you thanking Evie for the articles. She had been feeling the articles were not appreciated, so I will definitely share your post with her. I believe it will cheer her some, so thank you again and take good care.
  6. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Thanks Hope. I was having a hissy fit over the news section a couple of weeks back... blah. Thanks so much for cheering me up about it. Obviously I was very wrong. Thanks for all the articles you've shared as well. This is also one of my favourite areas of the forum.
  7. goingonhope

    goingonhope Member Premium Member

    You're more than Welcome Kathy, my pleasure to comment on Evie's hard work.

    Evie, I'd like to thank you for your acknowledgement of the effort I've put forth too and very much appreciate it.

    Looking forward to reading more posted PTSD News articles, and all in your time, Well-Being, and at your inspiration.

    Evie, just hope you know that We Care about you, and when I say We, I don't mean me, myself and I -tee hee, ha' ha' funny, funny, (LOL)..........not really funny huh'

    ............anyhow, We = So Many Members of this Forum, Truly We Care about You Evie, and want only the Very Best for You.

    Take Care,

  8. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

    I would just like to say to both of you, that I read this section religiously. I add to it sometimes myself, if I find an article.

    I ALWAYS appreciate the effort to post news on this for all of us to keep update.

    Just cause some of us don't say much, doesn't mean it isn't appreciated!

  9. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

    Hey Evie - this is a section I ALWAYS look at when I sign on. Your hard work is much appreciated.

    Take care!

  10. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Thanks everyone. Though it really was my problem, how I was feeling, I was quite out of sorts at the time, and I don't normally feel unappreciated here. I don't require people to respond to my posts generally. A couple of weeks back I was just especially ill and thinking very negatively as a result. But thank you for the encouragement.
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