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Malleable Memories
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Post: #1
Malleable Memories
It's a well documented fact that our memories don't represent the remembered event with full reliable accuracy, not even upon forming.
What we remember is under the influence of what importance we put in the event, what interpretation we have of the event, and what experiences of other events we've had in the past. Each moment of memory as it forms is thus only partly representative of the actual moment that passed while largely consisting of our own personal bias regarding the moment that passed.

Then there's the fact that our memories don't stay the same while we have them.
Our bias alters and shifts and changes with us. The importance we once placed in events can change and our focus can shift, and to top it all off, our memories can be changed by someone else giving us a different account of the same moment, causing our minds to "correct" themselves if we look up to the person or find them trustworthy at all, even if in this case their recollection is incorrect.

A person can, for example, "remember" committing a crime they did not commit if they hear a witness account given in the most convincing of manner.

These are all things I've mentioned before but they're fresh in my mind at the moment as my transition has come to it's completion, or at least, what I consider "enough".

You see, just 6 weeks ago I had the chest-flattening surgery. I had my breasts removed.
You'd expect that even if you're happy to see them go that there'd be some period of adjustment as you get used to them being actually gone, getting used to your chest not sticking out as far, or the lack of "bounce", or whatever.
It's only been 6 weeks and I just realized yesterday that I can not remember having them in the first place.
I remember the clothes, I remember binders and bras before them, I remember the feel of thick restraining cloth against my skin, but "having breasts" is something I can not remember.

This lead me to think about the other surgery I've had, the hysterectomy, and what changes that brought to my body and my life and I've discovered that I just can't remember anything there either.
For years I "know" that I had periods, but I can't remember ever having a period.
I "know" I had my daughter, carried her to term, gave birth, but all this is poof! gone from my mind!

Taken together, you could say that I've forgotten a sizable chunk of what was my day to day life before today and this makes me a spot concerned that perhaps some wishful thinking on my part has overtaken my ability to remember my own life!

I've had moments of feeling that other transitioners, in my position, were silly to describe a similar phenomenon, an inability to remember their time spent in the mis-matched body. Yes, memory's malleable, but the idea that you'd be "not able" to remember these things seemed silly to me.

So, why am I posting about it here?

Well, that should be fairly obvious.

A lot of us "have" what we consider past life memories, and a lot of us rely on this as confirmation of our beliefs.
We "know" we are this or that because we can remember being this or that.
We "know" these memories are real because other people remember the same.
But did we remember the events because they happened? Do we even remember them "as" they happened?
What of the others? Do they remember the same because they were there? or because they're under the effect of our writings? or because we're under the effects of the same stories and legends?

I know I know..
We've surely asked ourselves these questions before, all of us, but this recent experience has made them ever so real to me and I just felt like going for a rant about 'em...

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"Those who can't approach discussion with a basic level of intelligence and maturity shouldn't expect to be taken seriously." ~ Qualia Soup
2011-06-25 17:59
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Post: #2
Re: Malleable Memories
As "reality" is warped through the lens of individual perception, it is no surprise that memories are objectively inaccurate and contain the cognitive bias of their holder. Though they would remain objectively questionable, regardless, I am curious as to whether the issue of memory instability lies in the nature in which it is recorded or in the nature in which it is later translated. As memories are formed through the individual's perception of reality, their current mental state -- involving both the conscious and unconscious -- is going to be the major factor in the inscription of the memory. As one's mental state would logically fluctuate in response to external events, I am curious as to whether the degradation and "rewriting" of memories is due to an increasing incompatibility with the past mental state which recorded the event and the present mental state which is to recall it.

In this case, as you do not believe yourself to be female (and your body is male), your current mental state is unable to correctly translate the memories in which you had a female chest, as such information exists wholly contrary to your current self. The memories that are not as contradictory to yourself may be easier to translate and, thus, are "kept".

In regards to Otherkin, I can both agree with you and disagree with you on this point. I would like to ask you this -- if your body somehow became female again, would you forget being male?

If one's gender and sex are indeed identifiably separate qualities that can cause such discomfort as to drive to surgery those suffering from a mismatch, is it not possible that "otherkin" are suffering from a similar, albeit different, mismatch? If this was the case, "would I remember my time as human if I were to return wholly to what I once was?" would be a more fitting question in line with your experiences. This is where my disagreement lies; whereas you have become what you felt you have always been and forgotten your time being what you were not, these experiences do not directly parallel being what you are and then becoming what you are not. For that, I feel as though you should not use such an association as the primary basis for your queries in regards to the validity of otherkin memories.

I do agree, however, to your overall premise that the nature of memories makes their validity dubious, at best, in regards to otherkin, especially as taken at face-value. I am particularly fond of the mention towards stories and legends for their potential for creating or confirming false memories that may lead to their belief in being "otherkin".

2011-06-26 10:24
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