Two years ago, reports started appearing that compared the effects of lockdowns with post-traumatic stress disorder. As it turns out, one of the symptoms of PTSD is forgetting what happened. It’s an evolved trait that helps the human mind cope with terrible things. Our brains are good at blocking it out. I will explain the neuroscience behind this in a bit but first an anecdote from this morning.
I was speaking to the director of a childrens’ choir and he was speaking about an age gap in his singers. The lead singer just graduated high school, and the next oldest singer is 14, which creates huge problems for the choral competence. I hesitated to do it but I finally just observed that this 3-year gap fits exactly with the lockdown period, child masking, and Zoom school.
He began to speak about what it was like to train a choir on Zoom and then conduct masked singers outdoors on winter nights. He recalled the attacks and the difficulties, and then his voice trailed off.
“Actually I’ve blocked out that whole period of life from my memory. I won’t think about it anymore. Anyway, I need to circulate a bit here but good seeing you.”
That was that.
It got me curious about the relationship between selective memory and trauma. For a long time now I’ve noticed that when this subject comes up, the response is either to quickly change the subject, which is common, or dig deeper into what seems like a bit of catharsis. Some people have so much to share, so many painful memories, so much shock and abuse to report, that once they start they cannot stop talking.
This one comment from this one choir director got me suspecting that vast numbers of people might be trying to forget it all. This is how the political debates manage to pretend like this never happened, how the major media gets away with never bringing it up, and how people like Fauci still get high speaking fees, and so on. It’s not just that they are no-good liars; too often it’s because people really do want to forget.
This is how the number one most shared trauma of our lives is fading so fast into the national and global consciousness.
It’s a well-known feature of child or spousal abuse. The memories are so terrible and grim that the human mind develops the capacity for pretending like it never happened if only so that life functioning can continue. This is fine but actually the trauma is still there and feeds other forms of pathologies like substance abuse and attachment disorders and so on. The point of therapy is to come to terms with the reality itself in the process of healing.
Some years ago, a theory developed to explain this and it was tested on mice. I’m going to quote directly:
“Two amino acids, glutamate and GABA, are the yin and yang of the brain, directing its emotional tides and controlling whether nerve cells are excited or inhibited (calm). Under normal conditions the system is balanced. But when we are hyper-aroused and vigilant, glutamate surges. Glutamate is also the primary chemical that helps store memories in our neuronal networks in a way that they are easy to remember.
“GABA, on the other hand, calms us and helps us sleep, blocking the action of the excitable glutamate. The most commonly used tranquilizing drug, benzodiazepine, activates GABA receptors in our brains. There are two kinds of GABA receptors. One kind, synaptic GABA receptors, works in tandem with glutamate receptors to balance the excitation of the brain in response to external events such as stress.
“The other population, extra-synaptic GABA receptors, are independent agents. They ignore the peppy glutamate. Instead, their job is internally focused, adjusting brain waves and mental states according to the levels of internal chemicals, such as GABA, sex hormones and micro RNAs. Extra-synaptic GABA receptors change the brain’s state to make us aroused, sleepy, alert, sedated, inebriated or even psychotic. However, Northwestern scientists discovered another critical role; these receptors also help encode memories of a fear-inducing event and then store them away, hidden from consciousness.”
To test the theory, researchers infused the hippocampus of mice with gaboxadol, a drug that stimulates extra-synaptic GABA receptors. The mice were put in a box and given an electric shock. When the mice were returned to the same box the next day, they played with no memory of what happened the last time they were there. However, when scientists put the mice back on the drug and returned them to the box, they froze, fearfully anticipating another shock.
The lesson here is that “in response to traumatic stress, some individuals, instead of activating the glutamate system to store memories, activate the extra-synaptic GABA system and form inaccessible traumatic memories.”
Is this what has happened to humanity on a global scale, some kind of activation of our extra-synaptic GABA systems to permit the formation of huge barriers around our trauma to make our memory inaccessible? Perhaps.
At the time of Fauci’s strange deposition, I suspect that there was some brilliant madness behind the claim that he could not remember. He said it hundreds of times, again and again on every subject. It was strange, almost like he was training the rest of us to do the same, like some mad scientist modeling the correct way to think about what happened to us. In his view, we shouldn’t think about it at all.
We know we’ve been made the subject of some insane medical and political experiments. It’s perhaps also true that we’ve been made the subject of some malicious psychological experiments, like mice injected with drugs, put in a box, and then shocked. It’s like perhaps the ordering was different: we were put in a box, shocked, and then given drugs.
In any case, it all does indeed feel like PTSD, and it affected no population cohort as traumatically as it did the children. They are owed the truth about the trauma, however, and now. We must have honesty about this. The lies have to stop. We should not tolerate them at all. And the professional liars all need to be removed from their jobs immediately.
In our own lives, we really do need therapy that comes in the form of friendships, community, and physical fellowship with each other. Sadly, the people who need it the most are least likely to get it. I’m thinking of the many people who are still walking around masked up, fearing getting next to others, and otherwise hiding out in their homes in a sense of terror that something bad from the microbial kingdom is going to attack at any time.
The only people who benefit from our mass amnesia are the people who did this to us. We must remember. We must discuss. We must seek justice.
Fri, 12/08/2023 – 21:40