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If you selectively could forget past events, would you?

No need. I already am pretty good at forgetting

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1. Patricia Pomerleau CEOExpressSelect Member
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     (3/25/2019 7:45:13 PM)
     Message ID #329103

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Many times we think about ways to recall and remember — but what happens when we want to forget? Sure, the proverbial 'photographic memory' is great going into an exam, but what about that embarrassing moment when you said the wrong thing and wish you could fade into the woodwork?

Whether it's staying awake at night replaying an awkward moment during the previous day, or the need to clear the cobwebs so we can focus on important matters, if you could invoke some sort of selective memory mask, would you do it? From the NY Times, the reality might surprise you. Excerpts:

Whatever its other properties, memory is a reliable troublemaker, especially when navigating its stockpile of embarrassments and moral stumbles. Ten minutes into an important job interview and here come screenshots from a past disaster: the spilled latte, the painful attempt at humor. Two dates into a warming relationship and up come flashbacks of an earlier, abusive partner.

The bad timing is one thing. But why can’t those events be somehow submerged amid the brain’s many other dimming bad memories?

Emotions play a role. Scenes, sounds and sensations leave a deeper neural trace if they stir a strong emotional response; this helps you avoid those same experiences in the future. Memory is protective, holding on to red flags so they can be waved at you later, to guide your future behavior.

But forgetting is protective too. Most people find a way to bury, or at least reshape, the vast majority of their worst moments. Could that process be harnessed or somehow optimized?

Perhaps. In the past decade or so, brain scientists have begun to piece together how memory degrades and forgetting happens. A new study, published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that some things can be intentionally relegated to oblivion, although the method for doing so is slightly counterintuitive.

... as it turns out, forgetting is a dynamic ability, crucial to memory retrieval, mental stability and maintaining one’s sense of identity.

That’s because remembering is a dynamic process. At a biochemical level, memories are not pulled from the shelf like stored videos but pieced together — reconstructed — by the brain.

'When we recall something, the act of recalling activates a biochemical process that can solidify and reorganize the memory that is stored,' said Andre Fenton, a neuroscientist at New York University.

This process can improve memory accuracy in the long term. But activating a memory also makes it temporarily fragile and vulnerable to change. This is where intentional forgetting comes in. It’s less about erasing than editing: incrementally revising, refocusing and potentially dimming the central incident of the memory.

To intentionally forget is to remember differently, on purpose. Importantly, for scientists and therapists, intentional forgetting also may be an ability that can be practiced and deliberately strengthened.

Scientists have not yet worked out which strategies are best suited to particular kinds of unwanted memories. But any clearer understanding would be a gift to therapists working with people with disabling memories of trauma, shame or neglect.

Would you like to have selective memory?
  • Forget an egregious faux pas? A traumatic injury? Someone or something who or that hurt you?

  • What about veterans and first responders — do you carry memories you would just as soon set aside?

  • Do you have memories of bad events that serve a present good — reminders of what not to do again? A good bad memory, if you will.

  • If we could erase memories at will, do you think that would heal some of our disagreements?

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Message edited by user at 3/25/2019 7:54:03 PM

2. Patricia Pomerleau CEOExpressSelect Member
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     (4/16/2019 12:12:43 PM)
     Message ID #330523

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This is a really interesting question (Thanks Andy White for writing the poll!)

How about having an interesting conversation, or at least trying.

I would love to have a couple things erased from my memory. Not terribly traumatic or life altering--more annoying and embarrassing.

So, I said Yes, I would like to selectively forget past events. Little, annoying, nagging ones.

3. Scott Walker
     (4/16/2019 12:41:28 PM)
     Message ID #330524

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If you selectively could forget past events, would you?

How about lots of things erased from my memory, both annoying, embarrassing, and a terrible event; trouble is it may very well, most likely, change the future way of dealing with upcoming events.
Those annoying and embarrassing events keep the future brighter.

So, I say “No” keep the event even a military event!

4. T Cavanagh CEOExpressSelect Member
     (4/16/2019 12:50:07 PM)
     Message ID #330525

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A wise person learns from their mistakes. Others carry a grudge forever.

Forgive and forget. No point in carrying around buckets of hate

"Emotions play a role. Scenes, sounds and sensations leave a deeper neural trace if they stir a strong emotional response; this helps you avoid those same experiences"

Those who make decisions based upon emotion will continuously fall into the same traps.

Some days you must have ice water running through your veins, otherwise a good sense of empathy for others is a virtue.

5. Noel Meyer
     (4/16/2019 1:20:05 PM)
     Message ID #330526

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Each individual is the sum of all their activities - good and bad.

Mistakes you live through give you respect for the fragility of life.

Mistakes tell you where you come up short. Mistakes even small failures give you examples where your weaknesses are.

Modern man in this digital age appear unduly SOFT. Commercials on TV show the "horror" of American veterans with limbs missing, yet within my life-time, missing limbs, polio, missing fingers, even loss of an eye were common place. Life was tough. Life was precious. An "old guy" was composed of wrinkles, scars, injuries not from failures but from pushing the limits of his abilities.

Today's SANITIZED digital world has people losing careers for a wrong word. Yesterday's world "understood" the humanity of a false word but praised what it took to do good.

Are there memories I wish wouldn't hurt so much, of course. Would I want to lose those memories, NOT A CHANCE.

1. I see a problem with WAR. War was once something to be avoided. Nuclear war was something to work against because it was unwinnable. Today, not only is nuclear war "on the table", but this endless series of police actions is draining focus, attention and treasure away from space exploration -- universal health care -- infrastructure repair all in favor of endless brutality, senseless brutality in the wrong places, for the wrong reason.

I would abhor a senseless life of ignorant happiness with no pain, life, human life, is pain, it is the learning of how to end pain which is one of the great successes of life.

6. Gary Patishnock CEOExpressSelect Member
     (4/16/2019 1:36:20 PM)
     Message ID #330527

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I have selectively forgotten most of the details of the five years of my first marriage, but tried to retain the good ones.

7. Bo Noles
     (4/16/2019 2:50:45 PM)
     Message ID #330528

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I read this and think about the war veterans. Who has it worse than them? How many would love to forget going into that first battle or gun fight? How many would love to forget all of it? While I was not in an active war, I was involved in direct action and suffered a bullet wound and a shrapnel wound. My experience was nothing compared to those who spent months in battle starting each day with a little prayer that goes something like “Your will be done”. Those who have it worse are the infantry. Even though they are volunteers, they live each day with the knowledge that it may be their last day or may be the day they survive a life changing event whether mental or physical.
Believe me when I say, No one prays for peace more than a soldier. (Except perhaps a mother.) And no one wants to forget more than soldiers.
I don’t want to forget the events in my life that has made me who I am today. No matter how painful, scared, and terrified I was (my worse fear was being captured) the memories, for me at least, are a reminder of why I am.
I do not speak for the others. All of us who have been down range deal with it in our own ways. I simply think about them and pray for them.

8. MIchael Kingsley
     (4/16/2019 3:43:18 PM)
     Message ID #330529

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If you could selectively forget past events, you would drastically alter your future. For the former begets the latter. Forgetting would not change the fact that it happened, but it would deprive you of the learning process of the experience.

9. D Robb
     (4/16/2019 4:21:24 PM)
     Message ID #330530

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No, I would not forget but I wish I could control when I remember, and the intensity of those memories. I wish I understood and could control the triggers. I had a story published in the NYT series, Vietnam 67. Remembering and writing was not a problem. I controlled those memories. It is the memories of the total randomness, meaninglessness, and waste of the violence that make no sense.
I have never had any desire to visit Vietnam. Vets have told me they found it helpful, and I am glad for them.
In my case, I believe the smells would bring back all the worse memories.
No, I don't want to forget, but I wish I could control them.

10. D Robb
     (4/16/2019 4:45:03 PM)
     Message ID #330531

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The Women's Hall of Fame is getting flack for nominating Jane Fonda. I find it ironic that the real villain, Tricky Dick gets credit for ending it, six years after being elected because he had a secret plan to end the war. Liar.
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