The tyranny of unpleasant memories

Dear Editor,

When traumatic memories become dictatorial, whimsically deciding which memories should surface and which ought to remain submerged, it invariably does so indifferent to and independent of the memorial request and psychological needs of its mortal host. Commandeering the memory bank, an involuntary proliferation of cruel and distasteful memories are forcefully withdrawn from its reserves, tyrannizing and overwhelming the amygdala into suppressing more tolerable and therapeutically desirable recollections from surfacing.

Like a maddening dictator clinging to power, employing all the coercive mechanisms at his or her disposal, so are memories that are oppressive in nature, displacing and suppressing enjoyable reminiscences seeking to appear on the screens of our conscious minds.

Wrestling with irksome evocations from our memory bank which are usually competing for permanent residency in the forefront of our minds, tires us to the point that we would rather opt for voluntary amnesia. As we are constantly bombarded by irritating visceral sensations which so often accompany our unwanted memories. Many of us have had to deal with harrowing memories, the agonies of which anxiously elevate our heart rate and make us perspire profusely, one amongst many of the unhealthy and intolerable physiological symptoms we unwillingly have to experience when subjected to bad and what seems like never-ending domineering memories.

Struggling as we may to choose recollections that are more palatable to recall, we nevertheless, powerlessly succumb to the onslaught of traumatic flashbacks. We frustratingly remain helpless and unable to reverse the tides which gush forth a profusion of unbearable remembrances on the surface of our conscious minds. Our at times manifest impotence and failure to always consciously choose the memories we are desirous of recalling so often discourages us from searching for any underlying curative cause.

But all may not be lost if just for a moment we take a peep inwards into the dark abyss of our unconscious mysterious minds. Searching the depths of our layered minds we may very well discover clues that can uncover what hitherto we have incorrectly determined to be our inability to decide which memory we are desirous of consciously experiencing.

We can psychoanalytically survey the milieu of our unconscious minds, probing its depth in order to gain insight into what may unknowingly and frustratingly continue to cause memories we are not desirous of having to coercively make their way to the forefront of our conscious minds. According to the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, “until you make the unconscious conscious it will continue to direct your life and you will call it fate”.

So, while we may understandably feel powerless to reign in the unpleasant reminders which terrorize us ever so often, Jung nevertheless has proposed a psychological project which if undertaken promises to liberate us from the tyranny of our harrowing memories.

What we may then gradually realize while progressively becoming conscious and convinced of Jung’s timeless psychological insight is that our untidy memories are activated by triggers we are often unconscious of. So, after all we may not necessarily be the hapless slaves we at times make ourselves out to be. Our suffering resulting from the traumatic recollections we were unconsciously allowing to show up and persist uncontrollably were actually of our own making. But now with this increased level of awareness and understanding liberating us from what was once our ignorant resignation to a fate we lazily assumed was unalterable, we are no longer susceptible to the perpetual domination of upsetting memories.

Conscious now of the stimuli from our external environment and the thoughts that are triggering undesirable recollections from our reservoir of memories, we are no longer vulnerable to their prolong arbitrary and non consensual appearances. While we may not be able to entirely eradicate the displeasing memories that inadvertently show up. However, being aware of what are eliciting their unpalatable presence we can nevertheless become empowered through our awareness to disallow their perpetuation, a consequence of us being conscious of the triggers that are responsible for their onset.

Orlando Patterson

The Daily Herald

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