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 4, 2017

Alyssa Reads Memory Blunting: Ethical Analysis- collective effects

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. Now here's thoughts about the collective effects of forgetting, as worried about by the authors (and as I tend to think we deal with even without dulling memories pharmacologically.)

I have a concern about this supposed legal argument against using beta blockers or similar medications to reduce the emotional impact or trauma from publicly important events. (The given example was a terrorist attack. I can ... kind of tell this was written not too long after 9/11.)  The idea is that it's important to have some witnesses remember the event accurately. There's a problem: I remember from my introductory neurobiology class that when a memory is super emotional, we feel quite certain of our recollection ... but that we can still be completely wrong in our memory of what happened. Ask people where they were on 9/11, or when the space shuttle exploded, and some will tell you they were listening to or watching other events that didn't happen on those days. Sometimes didn't even happen that time of year. But we are confidently wrong! So as useful as accurate recollection would be for legal purposes, maintaining the traumatic impact on the witnesses doesn't make accurate recall happen anyways. Also, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable to begin with. This is a bad argument because the thing we're claiming to want to preserve already doesn't exist.

On that note, I wish the authors had said something more about the social and personal effects of blunting our collective traumas. I'm not entirely convinced that leg of the argument is going to hold either. After all, I'm a Jewish (and Queer, and Disabled) descendant of Holocaust survivors, and I know how we're never supposed to forget. I'd be a lot more inclined to buy into the value of collectively remembering and the consequences of forgetting if we'd stopped having genocide or deciding that certain religions are inherently more dangerous or lesser. But we didn't. These things all still happen. The things we're claiming to want to prevent already happen with our supposed preventative in place, and that means I don't trust the argument.

The murder witness example actually does concern me. "Yes, I was there. But it wasn't so terrible." (91). We don't want murder to be thought of as not so terrible. I know we don't want that because sometimes it is already considered not so terrible. See also: "mercy" killings of disabled people by the folks who are supposed to take care of them. It already just depends on the choice of victim, and that's terrifying. I don't want the idea of murder as not so terrible spreading any further than it has. I want it gone. I want all the murders being recognized as being as bad as they are.

I also have issues with the juxtaposition (and sometimes what seems like conflation) of giving a victim relief and medicating away (or relieving, I suppose I should use the same language for each) the guilt of perpetrators. Those are not morally equivalent. Victims and attackers or abusers are not the same. When we're talking about a mutual conflict, as in the case of war (the most talked about cause of PTSD, but far from the only one), there may not be a clear aggressor or victim. There also may be. It depends on what's going on, really (and remember how often the military is painted as the only way out for people in poverty, at the same time we remember the atrocities soldiers often commit.) Still, when we're talking about accidents and survivors of terrorist attacks, there's clear innocents. (Not "perfect victims" in the sense that they never did anything else even slightly wrong, but innocent in the sense that they didn't choose what happened to cause the trauma.)

1 comment:

  1. Alyssa,

    My September 11 [2001] memory is the Durban conference on race and tolerance.

    I do also remember a play we watched that week.

    I appreciated the distinctions on innocence and what we deserve and don't.


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