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How We Remember

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by RikR, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. RikR

    RikR Well known member

    Consider this when you remember the past.

    Human brains are designed to remember negative, threatening events and the more negative emotional content an event has the stronger the memory and the easier it is to recall. Conversely positive events and emotions have no value to the protective mechanism in the brain and are recorded with less or little neuronal activity...this makes them hard to recall.

    As an example: if you find $5.00 on the sidewalk you probably forget about it tomorrow. If you get cheated out of $5.00 by a friend you will remember it for a long time.

    So as we look over the landscape of our lives we tend to see the valleys not the peaks.
     
    Forest likes this.
  2. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    .... because, as I'm sure you're aware, from an evolutionary perspective, it's much more important to remember the saber toothed tiger that almost ate you than it is to remember the terrific nap you just had.
     
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I can recall moments of high achievement and self-realization, but I can also recall violent episodes and depressing things too. Don't know if the highs and the lows are encoded the same way in the brain. Much easier to recall the bad, when you're current situation is out of whack. Easier to recall the highs when you're in a positive frame of mind. The two categories do seem to be mutually exclusive as if your memory has located them in different boxes that open according to what mood you're in at the time. Bad situation = recall bad memories. Good situation = recall good memories. I can see how the evolutionary survival imperative does teach you to remember bad situations you'd like to avoid like not being attacked and eaten. It seems as if recall is highly selective and based on the emotional situation you currently find yourself in.
     
  4. RikR

    RikR Well known member

    The human limbic brain is not a multitasking organ – it thinks what it is experiencing right now is how it always was and will be. The cortex can try to reason with it but in times of stress it can be shut off by the limbic system and so you get crap to day, crap yesterday and crap tomorrow point of view.
     
  5. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Is that why when you try to reason someone out of their depression, they keep on citing a whole catalog of reasons to feel negative? It's almost like a kind of warped argument that keeps getting recycled. You tell them: "Oh, things aren't that bad". And they can reply with such a long list of negatives, they'll still be enumerating their woes on into the wee hours. It's like they're so locked into their negativity that they can't conceive of anything that isn't negative.
     
  6. RikR

    RikR Well known member

    Bruce

    We are learning that most depression is a change in brain chemistry created by thoughts and beliefs and selective observations. People get depressed then inhabit the feelings so they get worse. There are other factors like secondary gain and sadness as a form of self-nurturing.

    Look at trying to argue a religious zealot out of their dogma or a far-wing political adherent and you will see the same bias – once we hold a strong belief we tend to look for any thing to reinforce it and ignore other information.

    I used to tell patients that any condition you argue for...YOU get to keep!!
     
  7. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    This sounds exactly like the way I was when I broke my heel, nose and occipital lobe in 1989. I'd call people up and list how there was nothing for me because I would never be able to climb again. I see the secondary gain and sadness as self-nurturing too. After a couple of days, people got sick and tired of my endless cycle of whining and told me I was repeating myself too much. It's almost like you want to push negativity so far in one direction that it lets you bounce back on the come back trail. I guess some don't bounce back however and just stay forever in a negative space. Of course, I had a good job, a good corporate track record, and good medical insurance. You have to wonder though what would happen if you didn't have any life support systems in place to fall back on? I guess that's how someone winds up on skid row.
     
  8. RikR

    RikR Well known member

    Bruce

    I believe you said a key word “fall back on” I believe that TMS and other breakdowns occur when people exceed their stress competence and life resources. If you are a wounded survivor you (me) may only have enough tools to endure day to day stress and if anything else occurs like beginning TMS symptoms or an illness we exceed our coping assets and we crash.

    Once crashed the symptoms generate their own fire storm that then really exceeds our ability to cope “effectively” and we are in for a long, miserable ride.
     
  9. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I know that after I completed my Ph.D., did three Outward Bound courses in a row, and put up the hardest face climb in the world ('The Hall of Mirrors') in Yosemite I had such a backlog of success that I really couldn't get bummed out. But if you're on a long losing streak, with no positive achievements to bolster your self-image, it's much easier to lapse into depression and negativity for sure. But we all get old, weak and not so pretty to look at in the long run. There has to be come a time when it becomes quite difficult to build on a track record of positive accomplishments. What's that they say about "bitter old men"?
     

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