Mike's random thoughts and ramblings

The importance of Ecology

One of the most important things that was drilled into me when studying hypnosis was the concept of ecology. That is, that a person is a whole and complete system, and that, when making significant change to one part of that system, it was absolutely important to ensure that the system as a whole was not adversely affected.

Linda's words came back to me a lot when I heard on the radio today about Propranolol, a drug that supposedly affects the ability to recall bad memories. From the Slashdot article:

"They treated 19 accident or rape victims for ten days, during which the patients were asked to describe their memories of the traumatic event that had happened 10 years earlier. Some patients were given the drug, which is also used to treat amnesia, while others were given a placebo. A week later, they found that patients given the drug showed fewer signs of stress when recalling their trauma."

This is significant - as we start to learn more and more about neuroscience, we will be given more opportunities to affect our ecology as a system. But we need to remember that we are systems by nature and that taking the bad memories out of the system won't necessarily make the system perform better. It's the same problem that was faced by prohibition - the intent was that, by taking the alcohol out of the system, the system would improve. Instead, taking the alcohol out of the system created an entirely new business for people who were willing to break laws.

Imagine, for a second, how the world would be different if Ghandi, while riding on the train back to India pondering the hateful treatment that he had recently seen of people in South Africa, would have simply popped a pill and forgotten? Or if Mandela, upon leaving prison, forgot all about the treatment that his tormentors gave. Or if we, as a people, could simply forget atrocities like the Holocaust.

Would the system be better for never remembering the bad things?

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Michael Murray

Michael Murray