Meandering Michele’s Mind: PTSD & Memory – Do You or Don’t You?
Thursday, August 27th, 2009 • Uncategorized •
If it was possible, pretty much immediately after your trauma to get to a place where you could be treated with drugs that interfere with your neurological processing so you would not remember the trauma later, would you do it?
Another article out this week suggesting the idea, “If you could get to somebody soon after the traumatic experience, you might be able to interfere with [the memory] consolidation process and reduce the risk of PTSD.”
I don’t know about you but this feels creepy to me.
First of all, up to 70% of all adults suffer a trauma; only 20% of those develop PTSD. What if you’re one of those people who wasn’t going to get PTSD? And now you’ve blocked the formation of a memory which, you never know, could have been life-altering in some extremely positive way.
Second, the whole idea is about “whether we can understand these brain processes well enough to protect people from these memories”. This concept places the control of our memories in someone else’s hands. Is this really the best way to go?
Third, “research suggests it is possible to prevent memories from forming in the first place, or at least from being stored long-term.” If our identity is formed by the sum total of our experiences – an idea which relies on what we remember – whom do we become if we selectively choose what we do and do not remember?
Fourth, what if the drug is administered too much, or too little? What if it’s effects are not actually as predictable as originally thought? What if the administering is done but not properly or well? Trauma causes so many variables, does adding more really increase the chances of lessening PTSD?
Finally, is science really human enough to decide when and how memories should be processed? Does it consider the psychological, emotional and spiritual effects of blocking memories? Can it and the medical community (not exactly an infallible crew) pre-determine what and who you are and when and how you should remember something?
I read these articles heralding possible vaccinations against PTSD and wonder how any survivor would feel to live through something – to reach deep down into his soul and find the strength and will and desire and courage and resolve and bravery and creativity to survive — and have all that knowledge about the heroic tenacity of who they are and can be stripped from what they know, removed like an unwanted piece of wallpaper on the outside chance they won’t like remembering it all later.
I’d rather deal with the demons, heal the past and know exactly who I am and what I’m capable of doing.
But that’s just me. What about you?