The memories stored in our brain are either processed or unprocessed. If they are processed, it means that the brain has done its job and integrated a learning experience into our memory networks. Something happened that was disturbing, but I learned what I needed from it. I fight with a family member and I have a negative emotional and body reaction, but time passes and I think about it, talk about it, dream about it, and soon it doesn’t bother me any more. The appropriate connections are made in my brain and I might realize: “He’s been going through a hard time. We’ve had rough spots before and worked them out.” I decide what action to take and I feel better. In my memory network, what is useful is stored and what’s useless — like the feelings of anxiety or anger — is gone.

That is what the brain is geared to do: make the appropriate connections, “digest” the experience and store it in memory. But sometimes an experience can be so disturbing that the information processing system of the brain becomes imbalanced. When that happens, the experience is stored in an “unprocessed” form and still contains the emotions, physical sensations and beliefs that occurred at the time of the original event. So when I see the person again, instead of feeling OK, I have the same feeling of anger, hurt and anxiety. –Francine Shapiro, PhD

Writing Prompt: Write a character sketch for someone who has unprocessed traumatic memories.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a memory that continues to bother you.

Art Prompt: Memory

Photo Credit: Urban Woodswalker on Flickr

2 Responses to Prompt #346 Memories – Processed and Unprocessed

  1. What a fantastic idea 🙂
    I love playing with prompts to warm myself up before working on my novel.

    • Liz says:

      If you respond to a prompt and post it online, let me know so that I can link back to it. Thanks for stopping by, Maryellen!

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