Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Amnesia Gene

Why some people are more likely to forget traumatic events
By Rajamannar Ramasubbu

Human memory is highly influenced by emotion. In healthy subjects events that are emotionally charged—and it doesn’t matter if the emotions are positive or traumatic—tend to be much better remembered than emotionally neutral events. This psychological tendency comes with a glaring exception, however: in some individuals, extremely stressful or traumatic events can induce amnesia, so that they lose the ability to remember what happened. In some instances this loss can lead to the erasure of a vast amount of memory, so that people even forget basic facts about their identity, such as where they live or what their name is.

Amnesia induced by negative emotions is considered a psychological defense mechanism that protects the organism from the consequences of extreme trauma and catastrophic fear. However, recent studies suggest that emotion induced memory loss can also prevent appropriate coping mechanisms, so that people never learn to deal with their painful emotions...

Scientific American

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