Monday, March 8, 2010

Fuggedaboudit, or Remember - It Just Takes Practice

Do you think you can actually force yourself to not remember something you see that is upsetting ? I found this article interesting because I question if this is possible for everyone to do. For me, I think it'd be very difficult to do so. However, new research claims forcing yourself to forget something is very possible, and likely - just by a little practice and conscious effort. This article tells about a study in which this was proven. After showing volunteers devastating pictures, they were asked to consciously suppress their memory of them, and in result, they were actually successful in doing so. Also, after the exercise, they had a more vivd memory of the cards they were asked to remember. Although this makes sense (that they'd remember what they were told), what they were told to suppress were photos that evoked strong negative emotions. It intrigues me that these people were able to successfully suppress them, just because they were told to. For me, negative happenings or visuals tend to stay on my mind no matter how hard I try to forget them. I also think it is interesting that these studies can enable scientists to help psychiatric patients, and individuals who can't help getting anxieties and dwell on the negative. I want to look into articles involving studies such as this one, and find out in what ways such studies can help psychiatric patients. I do have some questions about the studies explained in the article - what kind of backgrounds did these volunteers have ? Even though they aren't clinically labeled with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorders, does that mean they were all happy-go-lucky, carefree individuals ? I think things such as the stress and anxiety toleration of these people play an enormous roll in these studies and greatly influence them. Also, their lifestyle, careers, and age play a big roll. What if some of the photos, such as ones of car crashes or injured soldiers reminded one of the volunteers of a personal experience they might have had with one of these issues? Would they then successfully be able to then suppress the image, just because the researchers of the study told them to do so ? Would they be able to "suppress the stress" ? What about the individuals who can't help but hold grudges all the time ? What about the individuals who are just more sensitive and emotional then others - will they be able to change their natural stress level by practicing forcing themselves to forget selective things ? I think this study kind of simplifies stress and anxiety disorders a little bit. To me, the article makes it seem like all anyone needs to do in order to not stress out is to just try to consciously not think about something. Being able to block out a bad experience of visual may be possible for some people, but not for all. In fact, even I - someone who does not have PTSD or anxiety disorder - find it next to impossible to just simply push a devastating or triggering image or event out of my head. However, I am also an individual that tends to stress easily and sometimes has a hard time lettings things go. In learning more about this study, I would like to know the break down and statistics of the individuals who able to suppress the negative visuals vs. those who weren't. Even though majority was able to, I would like to know by how much they were. I guess this study suggests that with just a little practice, anything is possible ? Even for the hardheaded individual. Being able to force yourself to forget something seems extremely ideal. Maybe it's true that practice does makes perfect .. (or some version of it.)


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