Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Alyssa Reads Memory Blunting: Ethical Analysis- suffering and authenticity

I read "Memory Blunting: Ethical Analysis" by the President's Council on Bioethics, excerpted from Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness (2003) and appearing in Neuroethics: An Introduction with Readings, edited by Martha J. Farah. I did so because I am taking a neuroethics class and we're supposed to show that we're thinking about neuroethics stuff at least a bit outside class. Also because I'm super-interested in how neuro-stuff (especially neurodivergence but really all things neuro-) is represented in fiction (especially young adult speculative fiction.) I'm pretty much chucking my notes (drawn parallels, expressions of annoyance, and the occasional "OK that's legitimate") on my blog because as important as a lab notebook is, I like notes that are typed and searchable. I started with some connections to Allegiant, then some thoughts on collective effects of blunting trauma, and then cognitive liberty. Now here's suffering and authenticity.

The concerns about what we might do to others minds if it were an issue of what person X does/chooses for person X, not what we are choosing for others. The concern seems to be about changing someone's true self, so suffering and authenticity come in again, just like cognitive liberty. These two seem frequently connected to me. If we recognize that people get to define their own "true selves", we don't get to moralize over which experiences are real and true anymore, which kind of kills the "not their true self" argument. Which is an argument I'm really not a fan of, especially considering which experiences it tends to be applied to.

This quote ... gives me the noble suffering/virtuous suffering sort of feeling, where whatever positive you might (not will, might) drag from the hell you go through means you shouldn't try to avoid that hell or save others from going through it.
Or will he succeed, over time, in 'redeeming' those painful memories by actively integrating them into the narrative of his life. By 'rewriting' memories pharmacologically, we might succeed in easing real suffering at the risk of falsifying our perceptions of the world and undermining our true identity. (90)
The version of a person that went through more bad things isn't automatically more real. The version of a person that's suicidal from trauma isn't automatically more real than the version of a person that takes medication to not be suicidal. Our choices define us, not just what we've been through, and using chemicals to get the parts of our histories we never chose to back the heck off? That's not less real. Suffering isn't the only way to be real. Enough of the noble suffering narrative. Enough.

Now to bring back a quote that I also talked about with cognitive autonomy:
And yet, there may be a great cost to acting compassionately for those who suffer bad memories, if we do so by compromising the truthfulness of how they remember. We risk having them live falsely in order to cope, surviving by whatever means possible. (92)
  (Survival is resistance etc)

And the concerns about what happens if we take out everything difficult? Those take a huge slippery slope argument, and not the kind where we've seen from experience that most people stop early or don't stop at all (destructive obedience is one of those.) Trauma is not the same thing as everything difficult in a person's life. Having to spend a lot of time and effort on reading and writing in order to become a good writer is not the same as witnessing a murder or being mugged or being a victim of abuse. One of these things is a choice: we're not under any obligation to become good writers. The other's aren't choices. They're things that happen to us. How we deal with the results is at least partially a choice. (Not entirely. Especially when, due to technological or social constraints, dulling the pain while working through it isn't an option.) There is plenty of opportunity for hard work and achievement without forcing others to keep horrors in their heads for the sake of ill-defined authenticity.

1 comment:

  1. Alyssa:

    I am glad and relieved that being a good writer is a choice.

    And authenticity comes in when memories connect to other memories and other aspects of the person.


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