I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and neuroscience. I’ve nearly decided on a course of study to the end of my working in neuroscience from a research perspective. There are so many things I want to explore, I now think of things in terms of my lifetime, given that I will likely be involved in some rather lengthy pursuits if not only one. Unraveling the mysteries of the mind however is a challenge I readily welcome in any capacity. My future job duty being purely to learn and work on incredibly complex challenges in understanding doesn’t seem like work to me at all in the traditional sense of toiling for enough income to sustain a comfortable quality of life. I dare say, this is the experience of looking at the world through fresh eyes like that of a child where everything is new and exciting. I welcome this late-coming experience in my life and am eager to embark on starting the next chapter. All of that said, how memory and psychology intertwine has been on my mind today.
Conventional thought, at least until recently has been that the mind is like a constant infallible recorder of everything that we see, hear and experience. Once a memory is recorded, it remains unaltered essentially for the rest of our lives. With more recent advances and studies however, it has been proven that this isn’t the case at all. In fact, the fallibility and inaccuracy of human memory is astounding, even as it related to trauma. Even more fascinating is how memories are recalled and actually rewritten upon recall. I refer to this particular article that I read not so long ago (The Forgetting Pill – Erases Painful Memories Forever).
Memory has been a curiosity of mine over the last several years. I’ve alluded to to the fact that I experience memory in fragments. It’s extremely rare that I feel anything when recalling specific memories. More generalized concepts and the mix of memory fragments that surround that idea may illicit a faint feeling, but nothing more. This is at least in my waking hours, dreams and nightmares being a completely different experience. I find it odd the things that I seem to have some choice in keeping in the forefront of my mind as far as memories. There’s been a mix of experiences in my life. There’s likely as much good as there has been bad, though I tend to recall more readily the negative things. Accuracy of memories vary. So much so that because of all of the fragments it’s hard to discern what’s real or actual versus something I’ve seen or heard. I was told by one therapist that it doesn’t matter how accurate the actual memory is, only what I’m left feeling and believing as result. Is it possible to be haunted by memories of things that simply didn’t happen? I would guess so. Or maybe something happened and my recollection of it is very skewed.
If we are the sum of our life experiences leading to this moment, what if my beliefs and insights are based on a past that may be more fiction than fact? Is that a product of a self-fulfilling mantra about my life on a psychological level mixed with the fallibility of memory? Am I more a product of whom I believe I am versus who I think I should be? Am I a fraud, even to myself? Who am I really? This is an intellectual curiosity of mine, not a disruptive force in my life or a crisis of self. It’s merely exploring the possibility and asking the questions. Know thyself is a loaded proposition. Especially for someone like myself trying to figure out just how full of shit I really am. I do like myself, however. I like who I’ve become regardless of how I’ve manged to arrive where I am in my life. Many people that I’ve had any lengthy contact with tell me that they respect my thoughts and opinions greatly. They tell me that they hold me in high regard. They hold me in much higher regard than I hold myself, of that I am certain. I wonder sometimes if I’ve managed to hide my true nature from both myself and the one whom holds me in high regard. After all, I don’t have skeletons in my closet. No, my closet door merely leads to a cemetery of epic mistakes and failures. Certainly I’ve shined at times and made very real positive changes in the lives of some, but I’ve left some far worse off than before having met me and making me a part of their lives. Perhaps what I choose to remember of my past is a psychological manifestation of low self-esteem, though consciously I’m a very confident person. I question myself often, but not from the perspective of having a low level of self-worth. Perhaps I’m lying to myself and don’t realize it.
I do wonder though, if one part of the circular thinking is more oval in nature weighing more heavily than others in my case. I suppose everyone would be more weighted one way or another. Even with having what seems to be confirmation of a long-held belief that I have a rather severe chemical imbalance, I tend to be someone who has a melancholy about me. That’s my natural state. I seem unable to focus purely on the good or joy of a situation without seeing the downside of things. When someone complains about their coffee being made in a way that displeases them and seems to be in genuine distress or anger over it, I can’t help but think of people starving within a mile of this person who just spent $5 on a cup of coffee. Or in the larger scale of things, that there’s active genocide happening in the DRC and has been for years. And that as a country we do little to nothing to put an end to it because they aren’t sitting atop a large amount of a natural resource that we want. I do laugh genuinely and often, but not without thoughts like these being at the back of my mind. Perhaps I’m still depressed and the medication has done nothing for me other than allowing me to experience the placebo effect.
There’s so, so much more to this train of thought. If what I’ve written here about it were quantifiable mathematically it would likely be around 1-2%. My brain doesn’t process things in a linear stream of words – it’s beyond words and spiders out in so many directions.. I’ve cherry-picked a tiny snippet of one of many, many complex and intertwined threads. One of my brothers nailed it when he described it as nebulous thinking. We both experience the same way of processing things. Our two other brothers don’t experience anything like this. The other odd thing about this type of thinking is that it forms in detail and complexity like this without conscious verbal thoughts in the matter of seconds to a couple of minutes. The structure will hold for minutes to hours before collapsing. Then another thought will explode. This will go on like this for several days up to a month, then smaller expansive thoughts will be present. It never shuts off. I’m lucky though, since being medicated. I’m able to shut it off enough to sleep at night.
Perhaps I think too much. As I mentioned before, I may be more full of shit than I know.
Random inclusion of a photo from a photo outing last Sunday deep into the woods of a property in our town. There were no trails leading to this waterfall and we were amazed to find it without any trace of people visiting it. We walked for nearly an hour through thick brush and briar bushes to find it. This is a crap shot, but at least it shows the waterfall. I’ve some better ones that I’ll post to my portfolio website. I’ve been on a black and white kick lately, which is kind of redundant, given that it’s winter and there’s hardly any color anyway. Nature is one of the few places that my mind slows down a little. I center there. Before moving out on my own I always took refuge in the 20 acres of wooded land that was behind the house. There was peace and safety in the woods. To this day, the sound of breeze through the leaves and wood flexing making that sort of cracking sound comforts me greatly.