Dr. Gary Scudder
Concepts of Self
Altering the Mind
Memory is mysterious. You may lose a memory created fifteen seconds earlier, such as
when you find yourself standing in your living room trying to remember what you came there to grab. Memory is the residue of thought and although it is not always accurate, memory is still important. Without memory we wouldn't have place to store all the information we learn throughout our life times. Memory allows use to process information, store information and then access it later when we need it. The more emotional arousal a person had, the stronger the memory will be, but will it be accurate? Do our memories tell the truth? Do we all perceive things different? The answer to these questions are far from simple but I am going to do my best to give factual information from dependable sources followed by examples from the film “Momento”
Directed by Christopher Nolan (2000) to at least scratch the surface of the answers.
In the book “Forty Studies That Changed Psychology”, The author, Roger Hock
explains a not-so-simplistic overview on the ideology of memory. He uses information found by the worlds top psychologists as evidence to prove the point that memories are not always reliable resources. One of the researchers Hock tells about is Elizabeth Loftus from the University of
Washington. She found through a serious of experiments that, “Memories are not stable, as we commonly believe, but that they are malleable and changeable overtime.” (Hock 118) The modifications that our brain makes to our memories are normally nothing to worry about on a
day to day basis but can become extremely critical when making life altering decisions that rely on the truthfulness of memory reconstruction.
In the movie “Momento” the main character Leonard may or may not have suffered
from a condition known as Anterograde amnesia; the loss of memory of what happens after the event that caused the amnesia, his wife’s murder. This prevented him from holding onto any memories (after his wife's passing) in his brain for any longer then a five minutes. Because of this he couldn't not maintain any new relationships, learn new things and has no perception of time.
The only memories Leonard has stored in his brain are vague memories of his wife and an idea of he might have been before the accident. Because of this, Leonard is constantly feeling the only emotions he can contain by memory. He dedicates his life to searching for the murderer of his wife to get revenge but are his memories as reliable as he makes them appear to be?
There are two ways to look back at an event: one is “this is what I remember” and two is
“this is what really happened”, and the high level of emotion Leonard’s memories have it makes it impossible for him distinguish between the two. Leonard found that note taking and tattooing reminders to himself is the only way he can get anywhere in whats left of his life. Leonard says,
Memory's not perfect. It's not even that good. Ask the police. Eyewitness
testimony is unreliable. The cops don't catch a killer by sitting around
remembering stuff. They collect facts, they make notes and they draw conclusions.
Facts, not memory. That's how you investigate. (Momento)
Although Leonard makes a point when stating that facts are more trust worthy then memories, facts are even more useless when you have false information for the fact. With the enormous amount of possibly false information that he receives from numerous self-centered, thoughtless, and untrustworthy people around him, what he believes about his past could just a big lie with
out him even knowing. The people around him know how easy it is to use Leonard. For example
Leonard asks Teddy “Have I told you about my condition” Teddy reply “ only every time I see ya”. (Momento) This shows that Teddy knows how forgetful Leonard is and how easily he can be…