It’s well established that memories are elastic before they’re encoded by the amygdala, but my research proves that each time the memory is recalled, it returns to that mutable state. That suggests memory loss scan indeed happen after memory retrieval. If there’s a pharmacological roadblock that disrupts protein synthesis in the amygdala . . . Imagine if you could erase traumatic memories with chemical agents years after the fact. It would completely change the way we treat post-traumatic stress. (Leaving Time, pg. 84)
I stumbled upon this passage while reading “Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult. If you’re familiar with my blog, you know that I’m a huge fan of Jodi Picoult. It seems like I’m always discussing and reviewing her books here and on GoodReads, moreso than any other author. I think it’s because Jodi always chooses interesting, modern topics to research and write about, and these topics boggle my mind for days after I’ve put down the book.
Leaving Time is a novel about a young girl searching for her mother. Her mother worked at an elephant sanctuary, so the novel also provides several interesting details about elephants. When I first read the summary, I thought the book would be similar to Lone Wolf, a story about a girl whose wolf-enthusiast father was in a car crash. I found Leaving Time to be a very different read.
I was namely intrigued by the themes of memory and grief. I’ve never thought about animal grief before, or the possibility that elephants could grieve very much like humans. The passage above stuck out the page at me, for a reason that was revealed later in the book.
If you could erase your traumatic memories, would you? My initial response was: No, I wouldn’t. Even the ones that haunt me. They’re part of who I am, they’re the reason I have a story to tell. Through darkness, I’ve found light.
Jenna’s father, Thomas Metcalf, was looking for ways to completely erase memories, to completely change the grieving process. His wife, Alice, on the contrary, rose my point: Memories protect us.
Without memories, even the traumatic ones, we can’t move forward. We all wish at times that we could go back and change the past, but the reality is, we can’t. We should embrace it, learn to deal with it, and move forward. Grief is part of life. It changes us. How we cope is up to us. We can’t erase the past, so why erase our memories of it?
Another amazing, controversial read from Jodi Picoult! I’m almost running out of Picoult books to read. Luckily her newest, Off the Page, co-written with her daughter, came out today! Can’t wait to read it!