Most people would think that the heart is the most important part of the body and, to a certain extent, I can understand that. After all, if you didn’t have a heart, you couldn’t live. My viewpoint is somewhat different. If I didn’t have a mind, I wouldn’t want to live.
It has always fascinated me that short-term memory is the first to go but long-term memory lives on and on except, of course, for the events that selective memory has successfully blocked out.
I used to hear people saying that they couldn’t remember what they ate for breakfast but then they would tell you something that happened to them thirty years ago as if it was yesterday.
People who suffer from dementia have similar memory patterns. Their short-term memory is almost nonexistent but they can remember people and events from a very long time ago.
It’s not uncommon for someone with dementia to forget a loved one’s name and their relationship but remember an event they shared when they were much younger. And, for some people who haven’t been able to recognize their loved one, they occasionally get a few moments of clarity where they remember the person’s name and their relationship.
We know that our childhood shapes us; what we are has its roots in those experiences but it always amazes me that many people say they weren’t influenced at all by their childhood. And even more people don’t remember their childhood at all; it’s as though their life began at middle age.
Take a look at all the people who have knee-jerk reactions to things that are said and done. Why would they have such extreme reactions if childhood memories didn’t pierce the subconscious? You can successfully block out memories, almost as if you have amnesia, but there is a cellular memory that acts as a hair trigger to adverse situations.
When I think about the vast storehouse of information and emotional responses that are contained within a human body, it’s amazing that anyone survived childhood, and it’s so easy to see why they have selective memory of the things they would like to forget. I think we have barely scratched the surface of what makes us tick and that makes me doubt if we will ever fully understand the intricacies of the mind.