Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,


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Do we lose our 'self' when we lose our memory?

In Philosophy, this is the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.

Do we lose our 'self' when we lose our memory? I believe that when we lose our memory -- from a disease (Alzheimer's) or any other reason -- we have no more identity because we don't know who we are anymore -- we don't have 'self' anymore. In a way, that affirms that only the self exists. We lose our 'self', we lose everything including reality.

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    Oct 16 2013: As David writes, the "self" changes as we move through life. We do not lose it. It only changes.
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      Oct 21 2013: I don't know, I seem to believe the word grows or evolves is a better fit rather than changes. I look at myself compared to when I was 11-14 years old, to say that my personality has changed is not correct in any way. To say it has grown in two or three separate ways is much more accurate.
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        Oct 21 2013: I think the word change can encompass changes due to growth or to deterioration. I was thinking particularly of those whose last days may include the effects of dementia, Alzheimers, and so forth, as Poch had made specific reference to loss of memory.
  • Oct 18 2013: Poch, Thank you for those kind words.

    Diabetes is a plague of excess eating.
    Your body doesn't care what you feed it, it just processes carbs and proteins.
    It's the excess amounts that make it overwork, to it's/your destruction.

    As we age, the hurts and wounds of earlier times keep returning to remind us
    with their twinges.

    In younger days, I experienced things that made me wish I could lose my reality.
    That type of thought process goes with guilt.

    We all seem to have those episodes of losing our keys, forgetting where
    we put our wallets, etc. It always seems to happen when we are hurried.
    The odd thing is that we seldom remember to think about the causation or
    the "why it occurred".

    A story
    10 minutes before - I had picked up my car, a 1954 Buick Coupe, with 4 new tires
    and a complete brake job. I was slowly driving on the Frontage Road beside the
    elevated Freeway.

    I just had past by 3 children at play in a little red wagon. I traveled about 60 feet further -
    When another small child on a bicycle appeared from between 2 parked cars, and I hit him.

    I had slammed on my brakes as soon as I saw him from the corner of my eye, and jumping
    from my car, I carried him into a storefront for aid. I noticed the other 3 children had left their
    little red wagon to run towards me.

    At that moment, a very large car flew off the Freeway some 20 feet overhead, and landed
    squarely on the little red wagon, crushing it.

    None of the 4 children were injured.
    My insurance paid for a new bicycle.
    Other insurance bought the 3 children a new little red wagon.

    I forgot all about it.
    I forgot the children, their names, and never once tried to find them,
    or to learn what their futures held.

    This is the short version - I write this story a lot.
    And, each time I do, I wonder why I've never researched it.

    Do we lose our 'self' when we lose our memory?
    Or like I ask myself when I tell this story; Is there a God?
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      Oct 18 2013: I know people who suffer from diabetes and saw and knew how terrible it was.
      Wow Barry. That accident will really force you to forget! It's a defense system of our mind. Writing about it is also therapeutic that's why you do it.

      Don't doubt the existence of God (or at least the Benevolent Spirit which is what I believe in) just because of that horrible accident. Worse accidents had happened and turned out a blessing in the end.
      • Oct 18 2013: Poch,
        I've wondered if one or more of the children might have had a future preselected for them.
        Who knows?

        A story -
        I had a traffic accident in a one day old, "brand new 1972 Chevy Caprice Classic".
        A man driving a sports car did a half-donut (ahead of me, from the on-coming lane).
        He must have intended to park against the curb on my right, as I was to pass by.
        He immediately changed his mind and tried to complete the donut, back into traffic..

        T-boning the poor guy, I thought I had a choice. As I saw the accident develop,
        my eyes also saw on-coming traffic that I would have had to drive head-on into,
        to try and avoid T-boning the poor guy. I did not. Not enough Time. Instead,
        I stood on my brakes.

        There was a hospital directly across the street. The poor guy was taken there.
        I checked on him at the hospital , he made it. I sent flowers.

        Two different brains were at work making decisions.
        The poor guy lost his reality - for that split second - when his eyes or his memory
        failed to provide his brain with another path.
        Another Story.
        I was a boy-scout climbing a vertical wall above a dry stream. Almost to the top, when the
        plant I was clutching, pulled loose, and I began to fall. Looking down, I saw my fate.
        Huge rocks, but 5 yard towards the streambed, sand, only sand. My mind calculated,
        that if I threw my feet against the wall and forced myself to arch head over heels, that
        I might spiral through the air, and reach the sand. That is what I did.

        I reached the sandy area, landing with both arms in front of my face, and my body making
        a "whump" sound as I safely landed. My head was nearest the wall and about 6 inches away
        from a huge rock.
        We are lucky to have brains that can so quickly sort and come to reasonable conclusions.
        But they cannot work during lapses of memory, or without input from our other senses.
        And they cannot seem to overcome the limits Time imposes on physical movement.
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          Oct 19 2013: Maybe my future was preselected or predestined when a stupid accident shattered one of my eyes when I was 2.

          Right Frank. There are so many stories about lives saved with split-second decisions.
          2 possibilities if we failed from lapse of memory:
          1. It was our fault our mind weren't sharp at time of accident
          2. It was predestined (again)
  • Oct 16 2013: The best answer is probably "partially".

    People who loose their memory for a variety of reasons still maintain a fair bit of self, be it personality, physical traits, or certain behavioral patterns which are just as much a part of "self" as memories. Just how much is directly tied to memory however, is hard to say.

    It also depends on just how severe the memory loss is.
    I personally don't remember what I had for breakfast last week, and I don't feel fundamentally changed for it.
  • Oct 16 2013: The "self" is not a fixed thing. It evolves and changes as we do. While it is true that our memories inform our self, they are not the same thing as that self. Memory is not simply recollection; it's reconstruction. The act of remembering is a creative act. In the same way, each new moment presents us with new choices and new possibilities, which in turn have an impact on our "self." The self, therefor, is only what it is at any moment. People who suffer from amnesia or Alzheimers, or some other condition that diminishes memory (note that they diminish memory, they don't actually erase every bit of it; sufferers continue, for instance to know how to speak the language they have always spoken) continue to experience each new moment and to interact with it within the framework of a self that is continuing to change and evolve within the new circumstances.
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      Oct 17 2013: '...note that they diminish memory, they don't actually erase every bit of it; sufferers continue, for instance to know how to speak the language they have always spoken'

      I missed this point David. Thanks for elaborating on that.
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    Oct 21 2013: I shall prefer to look at the scientific side of your question.
    There is a valid theory called self-memory system or SMS that emphasizes the interconnectedness of the self and memory. In terms of this view, yes, loss of memory will mean losing of self.
    There are two kinds of memory systems. One is phylogenetically older than the other. The older memory system is is episodic in nature. This is an image based correspondence system that has little in the way of conceptual organization and which is mainly specialized for recent memories. It is a system that evolved to support adaptive short-term goal processing and is cue driven. In neuroanatomical terms it is a posterior temporo-occipital system. It is a system that would allow most species to operate effectively in their environment day-by-day.
    The more recent system is knowledge based and conceptually organized. It provides an organizing context for episodic memory. In a sense it sits on top of episodic memory and provides an access route that locates memories and set of memories in meaningful ways for the self. It is a system in which coherence is the dominant force and it is specialized to support long-term goals. This knowledge-based system is, neuroanatomically, a prefrontal anterior-temporal system (in which temporal pole networks are critical).
    The organisms who do not have the more recent system, or who have only an attenuated version of it, will not be able to engage in long-term planning. Thus, many animals that appear to have something like episodic memory such as birds, dogs, and other animals who can for example horde food and return considerable periods of time later to find that food nonetheless cannot engage in the long term pursuit of goals. And this is because they lack the more recent fronto temporal memory system.
    So, if a higher order primates or even a human being lose the more recent system of memory, they will downgrade to lower order organisms with certainly reduced sense of the self.
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      Oct 21 2013: Hi Pabitra. Very interesting.

      'The organisms who do not have the more recent system, or who have only an attenuated version of it, will not be able to engage in long-term planning.'

      So this is proof that IQ really has a role in memory. And I wonder how much IQ is required for us to have a sense of self. I understand that extreme sociopaths have no sense of self and guilt.

      '...they will downgrade to lower order organisms with certainly reduced sense of the self.'

      Can the sense of the self be reduced to the point where we lose it?
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        Oct 22 2013: One of the most important feature of the self is recognition of its own self, which is somewhat like ego. It is the feeling of self as observing everything else and splitting the conscious reality into internal-external division. There are tests like mirror tests etc that determine that this sense of self is noticeable in human babies after 18 or so months of age.
        The recognizing or self referring ability is like a event horizon. Once past it, the sense of self is lost. There are medical conditions where sense of self can be reduced to the point where we lose it. It's a vegetative state where the body is fully functional but completely cut off from communication.
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          Oct 22 2013: Amnesia! That's it. When the brain gets severely injured and we don't even know anymore who we are. Can we safely say the 'self' is lost when that happens?
  • Oct 21 2013: Posh, no more thumbs up this week from me, I ran out.

    Taking a page from Aristotle's Physics, that as a thing acts, so it is, he argues
    that since the mind acts with no bodily organ, it exists without the body. And
    if it exists apart from matter, it therefore cannot be corrupted. And therefore
    the human mind is immortal.
    I like that idea.

    Moving into more recent thoughts --
    The brain is not simply a static, soft mass bathed in fluid and surrounded by a hard case.
    It is not finished in its development once we reach a certain age. The brain can grow.
    The brain can also change and with that change, be altered, and show improvement after
    insult and injury, and can be remediated and enhanced.
    My eye doctor liked this one.

    But, I still didn't find out when we wink out, if we lose our 'self' and everything including reality.
    When I eat hot food sitting in my chair, reading a book, I wake up suddenly and wonder...
    Now, you've got me worried.
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      Oct 21 2013: Jonathan just mentioned '...because our body remember...'. My reply:

      'Your mention about our body remembering things is crucial to this discussion. I've read articles about that. One is that our stomach is our second brain.'

      Does that agree with Aristotle or not?

      Your mention about how our brain can be altered and regrown is also crucial. So another question: Can altering and regrowth of our brain bring back memory of our self or identity?
      • Oct 21 2013: Poch, I hate to bring this up but,
        the old saw, is... "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

        You asked -- "Does that agree with Aristotle or not?" Nope !!

        Aristotle argues -- "...that since the mind acts with no bodily organ,
        it exists without the body. And if it exists apart from matter, it therefore
        cannot be corrupted. And therefore the human mind is immortal."

        Aristotle seemed to think the mind of man could conceive, and therefore
        could achieve, over and over and over again. In past lives, in this life,
        and in the next life, etc. He never made any distinction as to the types
        of life-forms we could expect. Man, Dog, Tree, or Houseplant.

        Poch, Give the guy some credit. He was truly a smart thinker.
        And, if you could find fault with Aristotle; How would you verify it?
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          Oct 21 2013: Wow Frank. I don't think we should include heart concerning memory. On second thoughts...

          I still think I want to side with the scientific finding. But I would rather believe pioneer philosophers than modern scientific data which is becoming more and more corrupted. I think that answers your question too right?
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          Oct 23 2013: You're suddenly quiet sir. I hope you're not in a new accident.
  • Oct 20 2013: Aren't there different kinds of memories? An Alzheimer's patient might still know how to talk (If not talk, recognize the mother tounge), walk, eat and use the toilet to some degree. Aren't these things parts of our memory?

    We learned how to do these mentioned things in sensitive stages of our developement (Critical period), at a young age. If we never had learned those things at that stage we wouldn't develope these skills to the same degree (eg. The kids that got raised by animals since the parents left them in the nature because they didn't want them or because the child got lost). We take things that we've learned well (such as walking) so for granted that we don't even look at those skills as a part of our memory (One could argue that we learned how to do them and therefore can do it now because our body remember the procedure that must be done to walk. My friends always used to say "I hope I'll REMEMBER how to do that next time we're going to a ski resort" if they had learned something new on a snowboardtrip).

    Also, I believe we won't lose reality until we lose our senses. The way we percieve our reality might be different when we forget our memories from the past, but I don't think it'll disappear. You will taste, see, smell, feel and hear things, and based on these things you build up a reality. What will be missing though are your past experiences with your senses and feelings .. In other words you'll not be able to recall all the good memories from the past which you connected with certain feelings or senses (Which, to me, sounds quite gloomy).

    (Sorry for my english, it isn't my mother tounge)
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      Oct 21 2013: Your English is very good considering it's not your mother tongue.

      Your mention about our body remembering things is crucial to this discussion. I've read articles about that. One is that our stomach is our second brain.

      I'd rather fail to remember good feelings from our senses than forget who I am. Thanks for your feedback Jonathan.
      • Oct 21 2013: I didn't mean "Remember good feelings", rather connect the feelings and senses you have to your past experiences :-) In other words, being able to recall a memory by smelling or feeling something (eg. Smelling gasoline might bring your thoughts back to the times you spent as an adolescent in the garage, fixing your moped. Or, feeling infatuation might bring your thoughts back to the first time you fell in love).

        Senses and feelings can help us remember our past, since we throughout our life use them to perceive our reality .. thereby they also define our worldview to some degree (Our prefrontal cortex and perhaps other things also plays a role, indeed). If you one day woke up blind I bet (I can't know for certain) that your worldview would be to some degree different, what would be interesting to know is how you'd remember the memories you had when you still was able to see.

        What also came to my mind was "mental mapping", one of the best ways to prove that our senses are connected to our worldview. You simply take a paper and draw a map of the earth as you remember it without any help. The location which you have been to more often (Your home area, country etc ..) will have more details than any other places you draw on that map, because that's the location you spend the most time with your senses .. You remember the details there better than other because you've experienced that place more than any other :P
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          Oct 21 2013: I don't think sudden blindness will affect our memory negatively. In fact I've read articles proving that blind persons have sharper memories and senses.

          Now another issue arises: 'blindness of the mind' which is more dangerous and tragic than eye blindness!

          Yes. I agree that the more experience you have on one thing, the more you will remember it.
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    Oct 18 2013: Here is a New Theory which Explains Where Old Memories Go
    Why some memories disappear, some remain, and others blend with fiction
  • Oct 17 2013: At http://keithwhenline.com I have a page called "mind" which explains very basically how the memory works. If you are interested you may want to come back to it in a couple months when it is fully developed. There are several reasons why it does not make any sense that our memories are no longer there, they are just temporarily inaccessible to the conscience part of the mind. Here are a couple: 1) Under hypnosis previously thought "lost memories" are retrievable. 2) People with so called photographic memories can recall almost anything at anytime in their life (to put it simply we all have the same type of memory, they just have better apps if you know what I mean).
    I believe the "self" is the soul, it has always existed and always will, coming to earth is just a treat or experience for the soul. So, you cannot "lose memories" and you cannot lose your soul in spite of what some religions will tell you, IMHO.
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      Oct 17 2013: So Keith, 1. lost memory 'files' are retrievable. 2. Some people have better photographic memory apps (maybe I'm one. I can still recall things and exactly in what year it happened). I agree with those points. I'll visit your site later. Thanks.
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    Nov 13 2013: For techies in our discussion
    How about online identities?

    'Kyle McDonald created coded a way for users to link their direct messages to his own feed, so that anyone who direct messages him with a tilde symbol (~) before the message, will actually tweet as him. Says McDonald:

    There’s a strange connection between our “self” and our body. The connection is assumed, because they’re difficult to separate. But the only thing connecting our identity to our online persona is the knowledge of a password. What happens when we break that connection and dilute our online identity?'
  • Oct 24 2013: Poch, -- I haven't tried time travel... yet.
    Yes, I do remember well.

    I believe most people have experienced the same thing separating from
    their body's at one time or another, in certain circumstances.

    A story --
    As a young man I worked in the accounts receivable department for a refrigeration company
    in Glendale, California. It was a paper-work job. Open the letter, take out the invoice, find
    the packing slip, verify inventory, staple everything together and send to the boss for payment.

    Sitting there one morning after a night with the guys and slightly hung-over, I decided, to do
    something I had seen in a TV movie. Slow down the world around me. I tensed and tried
    to slow my heartbeat. Holding my breath, seemed to work well, when after a bit, I detected
    a slower heartbeat....
    I should explain, as a teenager I dove in the ocean's kelp beds off of Paradise Cove,
    California. I trained myself to hold my breath for I think 4.5 minutes. I would dive 10 times
    in a row, each time holding my breath, while chasing fish and exploring the kelp beds.
    Afterwards I paid a penalty by being violently ill in the water. I never told anyone about this.
    None of my family ever knew I went to Paradise Cove. I lived 50 miles away in the city.
    Back to the story...
    I pushed myself into my office chair, and tried to slow down my heart more and more.
    Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that other employees were passing by and working at
    their desks, but doing everything in slow motion. I almost had them stopped completely.
    I became afraid to take the final step. Full Stop. I inhaled, things returned to normal.

    I tried to do other same type experiments, both that day and later. I did scare myself again.
    I also never did it after that. It is enough to know. Really. -- End of story.
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      Oct 24 2013: Didn't you know that the breathing experiment you did is a Yoga exercise? In fact
      Yoga's primary mental exercise. Supposed to push out toxins, clear your head,
      and make you float. I did it in my teenage years.

      Your experience is proof that Yoga is indeed spiritual.

      It was second year in high school. Back when yoga was gaining popularity.
      My naughty classmates did a forbidden semi-yoga thing on one of us (let's
      call him Ron). He was told to close his eyes and breathe deeply. To make
      it faster, one pushed against Ron's chest which made breathing deeper. I
      don't know if he used magic words but after a while,he lifted Ron on the air
      with two fingers. Something went wrong. Ron woke up and fell to the floor
      gasping for breath.He was still half-asleep. He recovered later though.

      Yes Frank. Experimenting with the unknown is dangerous. Double dangerous
      because it concerns our soul.
      • Oct 24 2013: Poch, I didn't know.
        Yoga? Sounds like something a monk would have taught.

        Dangerous experimenting is fun, but you really have to be
        willing to pay the price of life to continue past a certain point.

        At my age, were I to consider the same type of exercise, I
        might be willing to go that next step. I don't mean I have some
        ulterior motive to do myself in. I just think I have had a great
        life, and to peek beyond where few others have looked, might
        be fun, -vs- what do I have to lose? I have no plans to do so,
        and until this conversation, never thought of it.

        We've, you and I, have come a long way from memory and self.
        And, in a very short time span. I have had a ball. TED is really
        generous in it's format. I must be nearing 850 or so replies to
        other conversations. But between yourself and Mary M. I can't
        think of anything better to do in the early morning or late night.
        I look forward to your next offering.
        Best of luck Poch.

        ps: I never quit, do I? hehe
        I just noticed you are from the Philippines. A Col. Rex Fryer
        was a commander at Clark Air Force Base, when I flew there
        from Japan, on military business. When I was a child Col. Fryer
        was my next door neighbor, in Chandler, Arizona, and his Dog,
        "Flacky" (named for the flack encountered flying over Germany
        during WW2) was the cocker spaniel, love of my young life,
        until run over by a car, to break my heart. Yet, another story.
        Truly, a small world we live in...
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          Oct 24 2013: No kidding Frank. It's Yoga.

          So glad you enjoyed our exchange of stories. I promise you my
          next offering. Could be next month though. Don't get into another
  • Oct 23 2013: Poch, I promised you another story. --

    Here is the one concerning my mountain climbing disaster.
    I was a 9 or 10 year old Boy Scout on a desert camping trip,
    and we were going to climb Superstition mountain in Arizona.

    We picked out a mountain face to climb and 5 of us started upwards.
    The rope went with the first climber, and 4 followed, myself being last.

    As we climbed, I noticed that most of the finger and toe holds were
    getting fewer, as those climbing ahead of me knocked them loose.
    Soon I had run out of anything above me to grip or put my toes into.
    I yelled up to the guys above that I was stuck and asked them to throw
    down the rope.

    About 20 minutes later down came the rope slapping me on the back.

    Hanging 20 minutes with your middle fingers in small holes, and your
    toes on crumbling small ledges, can cause hand cramping problems.

    I took hold of the rope and began to slide down the face of the mountain.
    My hands couldn't close around the rope.

    I remember thinking that I hoped there was a knot in the end of the rope.
    I was betting my life on that being the case. I reached a lip on the face,
    and fell out into space. The rope had no knot.

    90 feet is only as high as a high telephone pole.
    But the feeling of free fall is wonderful. The sudden stop is unique.
    I landed crushing a mesquite bush, and was forced to jump up and move
    out of the way of rocks that had been knocked loose by my passage.

    Boy Scouts can make things. Those guys cut poles and dressed them
    with their shirts and jackets, to make me a stretcher. They carried me
    to our Station Wagon and the Hospital was next.

    Other than scrapes and cuts to my front-side, and a kidney that needed
    to be massaged from under my lung, into it's proper place, I was fine.

    I thought about the guy with the rope. Standing there at the top, on the
    edge, tossing down the rope, and holding his end.

    What would have happened if there had been a knot?
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      Oct 24 2013: I think the name of the mount was warning enough.

      Your leader Scout should have checked your gears and made sure the ropes were safe.
      I blame your leader for the rope having no knots. At least it wasn't really a disaster
      since you only suffered minor. What would have happened if there had been a knot?
      Probably the 'disaster' was avoided of course. It was one of those incidents that say
      'what will happen will happen' which I tend to believe.

      My accident which I consider my most dangerous:
      Me and my friends entered a linkfence hole into a domestic airport. We were all about 9 too.
      Then we got behind a small plane that was taking off. The wind blast was so strong it forced
      us to stoop down so it wouldn't lift us. Yet it was pushing us backward -- into a pile of the
      edges of metal sheets. Fortunately, a guard saw us and signaled pilot to switch off engine.
      Aviation guards picked us up, scared us, then brought us to each one's home.

      We could have all died cut up in pieces.
      • Oct 24 2013: Poch,
        My son-in-law phoned me one afternoon at my office in Santa Barbara. He excitedly
        told me that my son may have drowned in Morro Bay, and was being transported to the

        I dropped the phone and drove 100+ mph to the Hospital some 100 miles up the coast.
        The Hospital had no record of my son, and they checked with other nearby Hospitals and Ambulance companies, only to find also, no record.

        I drove to Morro Bay and to the office of the Harbor Patrol. They informed me that my son
        and his boyhood friends had been climbing to the top of the pier pilings, and spitting down
        upon the aqua-divers working underwater. My son had lost his balance and fallen into the
        water and was then rescued by a working diver. He said, the boys had been Geoduck
        clamming and taken buckets of them home to prepare and eat.

        I went home. The boys were fine. They loved clamming, but when it got to the prep part,
        they became lazy. Stinky Geoducks, We ate Clams.

        My son-in-law was seldom not under the influence of drugs. His telephone call terrified me.
        I cannot relay my opine of him due to family considerations, and TED rules.

        My story cannot top yours.
        But, I do have a couple that might be closer to the topic.
        The one concerning memory --
        I was in my mother's arms, listening to her and a neighbor having a conversation.
        My mother replied, that I was 2 years old, I didn't talk yet.
        I can remember how mad that made me, as I yelled that I could talk,
        but it seemed to come out garbled.
        The one concerning transportation --
        I was only 5 or 6 years old, and had done something wrong.
        My mother sat on the couch looking at me standing in front of her.
        She scolded me, and demanded that I answer, I stood there afraid.
        I left my body and went to the ceiling up in a corner of the room
        looking down at myself and my mother. I was surprised, and
        it didn't last long, before I was back..

        The scary one -- I stopped time. later...
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          Oct 24 2013: At least your son-in-law didn't fully lie Frank.

          Is geoduck the name of the clam?

          Maybe you could say a few words when you were 2 but not really talk. But you
          really have a photographic memory! 2 years old!

          Ahh... so we have another thing in common: separating from our body.
          It happened to me when I was 23. Went home from work fully exhausted
          I didn't know I fell asleep. When I floated from my body, I panicked and forced
          my way back into it. In retrospect, I regretted that and felt like a coward.
          I later learned I suffered from mild pneumonia. My floating out of my body
          probably saved me from pneumonic death.

          If you can stop time, you can also time travel I believe.
  • Oct 23 2013: Poch, sorry guy...I forgot... hehe

    I was visiting a future life, and they were having a party.
    I couldn't say no...
    Actually they were a poisonous bunch of oleander bushes,
    and I was only a small flower bud, lost amongst thousands.
    I blinked, back again, in my old self.
    I smelled hot and dusty, with an acrid taste in my mouth.
    Afraid now, I don't want to lose reality again. I fight sleep,
    closing my eyes, no, no,....
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      Oct 23 2013: No need for apology Frank. I only got worried.

      You seem to have talent for poetry.
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    Oct 22 2013: Amnesia! That's it. When the brain gets severely injured and we don't even know anymore who we are. Can we safely say the 'self' is lost if amnesia is permanent?

    I was reading James Hall's fiction 'Body Language'(1998) which proved prophetic.
    There was this page about a radical epilepsy surgery. It stopped the seizures but the patient totally lost his memory. The patient was happier with his new condition though.

  • Oct 21 2013: My understanding is personality is the identity of self and it is through decisions and experience, plus genetic factors, that determine our personality in relationships. Personality is a vehicle gifted by the Original Personality and is the only possible method for recognizing one another after death. Lacking a physical body, human face and hair, the next life is in a new body not of human form and therefor personality is needed for identity.

    Personality survives death if decisions in the human life stage opt for relating to the Original One. I understand we do not survive if we are absolute and adamant to reject relating to God who grants us absolute sovereignty over our will. If we decide to reject, then the Judges on High recognize and respect our will; such a person becomes as though he had never existed.

    Memory is retained for those who do resurrect and self is reassembled by joining the soul with the Spirit fragment indwelt in the former human soul. The Spirit Fragment leaves when the mind ceases to function in relating to the Original One, but rejoins the surviving soul on the Mansion Worlds, not here on Earth.

    A sick and dying person eventually survives having made a choice to relate to God. The self does not disappear in the Universe of Universes upon becoming ill, but we all will pass through the "sleep of death" before resurrection.

    A concept of total loss of self is hopeless and offers no incentive for self improvement, maintaining hope and lasting confidence, nor does it offer lasting dignity. A provided plan for continuing life of adventure with the Original Personality with continuing new experiences is far more attractive. Faith is a big factor in choosing continuing life.

    In the last analysis, after all the debating points are made the only proof of God, the Original Personality can be offered in personal experience. Clear and honest thinking is necessary!
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      Oct 21 2013: I agree that we will have or regain our 'personality' on the spiritual world sir. But can you differentiate losing 'self' and losing identity Mr. Kurtz? I asked because it might make your point clearer.
      • Oct 22 2013: I see that self is your identity. If you survive this earth life it is yourself and your identity. Cannot two or more "self" persons see one another and also know who you are and each other? You are an identity to someone. An you will survive if your decisions are to continue relating to others, the Original "Self", the I Am being the most important One for relating. Since we are not omniscient, we cannot explain everything or all other "selfs".

        Becoming ill is not the end of self. Dying from illness is not loss of self for a faithful one who believes in the Original Self and accepts in faith a relationship. It is only a temporary sleep of death. One does not have to fear loss if one believes. We only graduate to a higher life and self continues in a new form. We are all highly valued on high and the Original One would not want to lose even one of us.

        Not to worry; there is provision for continuing life. Loss of memory does not equate to loss of existence.

        That is my understanding.
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    Oct 21 2013: No, the self conditioning or self governing side of a person's personality with Alzheimer's is lost. The mind becomes extremely young again to the point of not being able to connect with the present. Sadly, I believe it's the furthest one can go into what is truly called "living in the past" to where it no longer is a figure of speech. Samscratch is a pirate with a patch over one of his eyes and a repeating parrot on his shoulder. The inability to reason.
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      Oct 21 2013: Thanks for your opinion Whisky. I might get back to you.
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        Oct 22 2013: Thanks for the opportunity Poch. I might have forgotten and you may get a different answer. :)

        Maybe Samscratch will answer or maybe The Ram next time :B ...just give a request, you just never know for sure though. This is all my identity.
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    Oct 20 2013: No, yet we and others lose our identity.
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      Oct 20 2013: Thanks Lejan. You prompted me to differentiate between losing 'self' and losing identity.
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        Oct 20 2013: Hi Poch, I didn't do much, it was already in your words! :o)
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          Oct 20 2013: I don't think so Lejan. You didn't say much yet you gave me something new to research on. That is much for me! :-) Thanks.
  • Oct 20 2013: Posh, a story about forgiving --
    I had a company and some partners. They had done some very bad things to our business.
    I sued them. They contacted my attorney and asked for a board meeting to discuss things.
    They wanted the suit quashed, and promised to act properly in our future relations. I decided
    to agree, and quashed to law suit during the meeting. That very night, they stole the company's
    inventory. I was irate.

    I had loaned them money and they owed me a large interest payment. I demanded payment,
    and they paid me. With the interest payment in hand,I took my family for a month's vacation
    in Canada. When we returned, I had already settled in my mind that I would forgive them,
    and that I would never go back to my office. They often would call my home and inquire to my
    wife about me. To this day I have never had any contact.
    Posh, the hardest thing about forgiving is to actually do it.
    That story makes me sound a fool. Actually, I knew something. The leader of my partners
    had contracted a 2 year terminal disease that caused a terrible agonizing curvature of the spine.
    I felt he needed the money and the inventory much more that I did.

    Dang it, I am forever going "off topic". sorry again.
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      Oct 20 2013: It's ok Frank. As long as our discussion is useful.

      Another instance of instant karma? If not, your office should have explained why it can't pay you and asked for your support.

      Anyone who keeps repeating his/her offense to another does not deserve forgiveness. Forgiving them is 'bashing your own head' and equal to tolerating evil.
      • Oct 20 2013: Poch,
        I'm going to expand a little about the why of my forgiving them.

        From scratch, I put together a satellite TV manufacturing business. Found an Engineer
        to research and develop a downloaded satellite signal dual converter. He found two Techs
        to help him build it.

        I concentrated on building the 3 meter parabolic dish and it's mount. I spent time selling
        the finished product and installing equipment on top of hotels and motels, and rural farms,
        and homes. I raised funding as we grew.

        I decided to incorporate, and because the Engineer and two Techs had done such
        a grand job, I wanted to share my business with them, and did so.
        In the beginning, and before I started the business -- my neighbor had warned me
        about my selection of the Engineer, not to do it. He even told me where to find the
        information to back up his warning.

        I ignored him to my peril. He later said; "I told you so."

        After these thieves had done their deeds and stolen the inventory, I forgave them.

        The Problem --
        I had by myself elected to bestow part of my business upon them. I was too trusting.
        The problem wasn't that they stole. The problem was that I provided the mechanism
        for them to do so.

        The act was theirs, but the fault was mine.
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          Oct 20 2013: At least that made it easier for you to forgive them -- seeing your fault. Most offenders offend without being provided the mechanism or idea to rob others. And it's harder when what they rob is your peace of mind, not just material things.

          Your case reminded me of my brother-in-law's case. He gave the payment for his house construction to the contractor and together with his crew ran away and left job unfinished. It was also my brother-in-law's fault. He is also a kind and forgiving person.
  • Oct 19 2013: Poch, To lose the sight in an eye can be traumatic.
    Disabling, disfiguring, perhaps disappointing, but not a major factor to consider as affecting your future.

    12 years ago, I developed cancer. Big operation. Left with a non-reversible bag on my abdomen.
    It took 2 years just to be able to be able to walk around the neighborhood. As I healed, I was determined
    to work, and day by day, month by month, year after year, I sat in front of my computer developing a
    program to handicap horse races. Eureka!!! - It worked.

    Today, I no longer need my computer to find the winner of a horse race. I taught the computer, so,
    I have that knowledge in my much better computer, my brain.

    I worry, but only a little worry, about aging and losing cognitive abilities. My memory lapses are common.
    My ability to stand and walk is sometimes compromised by an unsteadiness. My hands shake when I
    drink my 2 cups of coffee in the mornings. But, I can still walk the 1 city block to the Senior Center each
    day and play billiards (snooker). I teach snooker, and my game is 1,2,3,& 4 cushion shots. My students
    arrive at 11am to my home, and drive me the 1 city block to the Senior Center. I only play for 1 or 2 hours,
    and walk home myself. My energy totally expended, I nap. (or should)
    This story is designed to perk you up.

    I have one more story, and unlike this one, it will be on topic.
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      Oct 19 2013: You know Frank, I have a feeling you're already my coach and feel lucky. So you just affirmed my saying that some accidents (tragedies like your cancer) could be beneficial in the end and I'm so glad for you. Turned you into a certified geek or techie! Congrats!

      But you're wrong about my accident not affecting my future. Accident turned my father into a grouch dictator and of course turned me into a loner very angry at the whole world. It was not the effect of my disfigurement but the effect of the accident on the whole family. One's future is surely affected when you live in an environment of anger and confusion. Anyway, I'm not ranting, just telling.

      The anonymous people I admire the most are those who overcome great handicaps of life. You are surely one of them sir.
      • Oct 19 2013: Poch, I am jumping around here a bit.
        I promised you another story, on topic, and had it almost completed when
        my neighbor dropped by to take me to the local supermarket. I left everything
        as it was, shopped, but when I returned, it had disappeared. I have a new Win8,
        and like Win7 before it, it is a social nightmare. Oh well. I spent the time reading
        these other answers, and perhaps I was heading in the wrong direction...

        I see you have taken the position that self and soul are different, and solipsism will
        most likely use soul to aid the identity, or to prove the existence, of self. I want to
        read a bit before I respond to your theory. I want my story to be supportive if it can be.
        Your history indicates much stress concerning your accident. I feel for you. I've found
        that women seem to address harsh or stressful conflicts with their relatives and friends,
        the same as men do, but, after a bit of time passes, they seem to be able to throw off
        those stress inflicted feelings and become close once again. Interesting that I found
        this out only last night, while speaking with my daughter on the phone. I sincerely hope
        you have also overcome. Life is far too interesting to tie ourselves down with stressful

        One of my students continued to make the same mistakes, again and again. I got in his
        face, my spittle flying, as he stood stoically in front of me. He let me go on for a bit.
        Then he said, "Frank, did you take your insulin shot this morning?"
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          Oct 20 2013: I make sure that my articles are all backed up by drafting first in YWriter. If you don't know YWriter yet, I assure you you'll love it.

          More details on my accident:
          My grandpa was awakened by cats fighting on the roof and loaded his 22 air rifle. Because he was sleepy, he forgot to unload rifle and just leaned it on a wall. Next morning, my uncle played with me, found rifle, and pulled trigger. Pellet bounced off and hit my eye.

          I was firstborn. My father chased the brother of my mother to kill him. Years passed and uncle was forgiven. I've forgiven him too but here's the hell: he continues to be abusive instead of making up for the accident. It's like he's forcing me to hate him forever. And it's working. Sometimes I make plans to kill him. He's forcing me Not to Overcome or forget the accident. Could you see that?

          Concerning your student, LOL
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    Oct 18 2013: I'm sorry but the profile pics I want to use were all rejected by TED. You could see my pic on Google+ or LinkedIn which I both tried to load.
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      Oct 18 2013: Perhaps your photos are not the correct size for the TED profile pic?
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        Oct 18 2013: It's really weird Colleen. TED was the only site that was able to block my pics with various sizes. I mean the pics DID NOT even appear on my own files when I tried to load it into TED! Anyway, I will solve this somehow later.
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          Oct 18 2013: I had that challenge the first time I tried to put a photo in my profile Poch. Perhaps you need to put the photo in your file and resize it before trying to put it in your TED profile. As I recall, the TED profile tells you what size the photo needs to be.....good luck:>)
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      Oct 24 2013: Hey Poch!
      You finally got the photo submitted......good job.....nice to "see" you:>)
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        Oct 24 2013: Thank you Colleen. I was planning to do it yesterday but I
        got distracted. I still plan to put a better pic :-)
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    Oct 18 2013: Poch,
    You write...." I believe that when we lose our memory -- from a disease (Alzheimer's) or any other reason -- we have no more identity because we don't know who we are anymore -- we don't have 'self' anymore".

    With your theory, we would be losing part of our self every time we forgot something?

    I suggest that with the life experience, we change, so what we consider our "self" at one stage of our life, may change at another stage of the life adventure. If we say that whatever information we have at any given time is our "self", and that is how we identify our "self", then you are right.....when those memories are gone, we may perceive our "self" to be gone as well.

    I have interacted with people who have memory loss on different levels, and they seem to have a personality like everyone else.....changed.....but no less of an identity in their perception. Perhaps as we change, our reality changes as well.

    As a person who sustained a near fatal injury and was unconscious for a couple weeks after emergency surgery, kept alive on life support systems, I had some memory loss. Does that mean, in your perception, that I lost my "self"? That I lost my identity?

    My perception is that circumstances of my life adventure changed....I learned and grew as an individual and added to the self/identity I had previously:>)
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      Oct 18 2013: Hi Miss Colleen,

      '...If we say that whatever information we have at any given time is our "self", and that is how we identify our "self", then you are right.....when those memories are gone, we may perceive our "self" to be gone as well.'

      No ma'am. This isn't how I identify 'self'.

      'I have interacted with people who have memory loss on different levels, and they seem to have a personality like everyone else.....changed.....but no less of an identity in their perception. Perhaps as we change, our reality changes as well.'

      I definitely agree with this point.

      'As a person who sustained a near fatal injury and was unconscious for a couple weeks after emergency surgery, kept alive on life support systems, I had some memory loss. Does that mean, in your perception, that I lost my "self"? That I lost my identity?'

      This is my main point: We lose our identity simply when we don't know who we are.

      'My perception is that circumstances of my life adventure changed....I learned and grew as an individual and added to the self/identity I had previously:>)'

      Again I agree and I'm happy for your experience :-)
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        Oct 18 2013: Hi Poch,
        You say..."We lose our identity simply when we don't know who we are".

        Part of the definition of identity is: 'the distinguishing character or personality of an individual".

        In my perception, a person who has lost memory, for whatever reason, still has distinguishing character and personality, so I do not agree that we lose our identity when we lose some or all memory. Our identity, distinguishing character or personality could change however.
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          Oct 18 2013: Ok Colleen. So the issue now is how 'identity' is defined.

          'Our identity, distinguishing character or personality could change however.'

          If our identity changed, doesn't that mean we forgot or 'lost' our former ID?
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        Oct 18 2013: Yes Poch....It seems that how we define "identity" is important:>)

        We may forget our former ID (amnesia for example), and it is not totally "lost" because people around us could remember our ID? It is the memory of the ID that is lost to the one with amnesia, and the person may still have the same personality and characteristics.

        In my interactions with people who have dementia or Alzheimer's, most of them continue to have many of the same characteristics and personality as they did prior to the loss of memory. Sometimes, they realize the change in memory, and sometimes they do not. They have lost parts of the memory, and the ID has not changed.
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          Oct 18 2013: 'It is the memory of the ID that is lost to the one with amnesia,...'

          Now you made it really clear Colleen!
          Another thing that most commenters say that agree with you is that we only lose part of our memory.
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    Oct 18 2013: I think that this question takea the perspective of many different disciplines in order to come to a satisfying conclusion. To this end, the debate below does a good job of addressing the issue by combining the insights of a neurobiologist, psychiatrist and biographer together. Follow the link below to watch Steven Rose, Sue Bailey and Hermione Lee discuss whether forgetting, rather than memory, creates the individual?

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      Oct 18 2013: Hi Emily
      Thanks for the link. ScienceMag just posted a related article about sleep brainwashing the brain.
  • Oct 18 2013: Y E S
  • Oct 18 2013: The days fly by when you get to be my age.
    I forget just by turning my head. Oooops.

    I finished doing my horse-races (on the telephone) with my friend at 8:44pm tonight, It is 9:25pm now.
    He reiminded me to take my Insulin shot. I assured him I was getting to my feet to do that very thing.
    We said goodbye, and I started to close my computer programs. Oh, thought I, I'd better see if TED had
    any responses. I wrote my response to another conversation, and started looking for a new conversation.
    It get worse, I guess. I will just have to find out. Oh, it's about 9:30pm, I need to take my shot.

    I would express myself in the "we" term, but I cannot. I'm just too stubborn. Oh well, off to take my shot.
    I hope this isn't my losing my reality... Oh, my shot, I forgot. 9:33pm.
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      Oct 18 2013: When I turned 40, years started passing by like days (in my perception). So I guess I don't have to reach your age Mr. Barry :-) Your forgetfulness seems just normal to me. I hope your diabetes gets better.
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    Oct 17 2013: I don't remember how I learn to speak and walk despite of it I still know how to walk and speak. I believe that even if we lose our memory we will not our self. We will not lose who we are, our personality and character because its the inner part of us. If there are changes I guess its the result of pain, confusion or whatever the person who lost his memories going through.
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    Oct 17 2013: I think it depends on the degree of your "losing memory", if you forget Who YOU ARE suffering from the disease: dementia or severe amnesia,yes I'm afraid those people will change a lot , even conduct some opposite behaviors to their normal healthy time.

    But in general, if you have a clear consciousness of yourself, losing some memory doesn't change your character at all. Sometimes it's good for your health and for you to regain confidence to forget some tragic past events.
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      Oct 17 2013: Hi Yoka. Here is what Sandy Stevenson positively say too about losing memory:

      '...Your memory is disappearing to encourage you to
      use your ability to respond intuitively. It is time now to simply know
      what you need to know in any given moment. Losing your memory is a
      positive happening!'
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        Oct 17 2013: Yes, it's said that if your brain is too full , you'll be unable to put the new things into your brain. Not only intuitively, I think, but deliberately too.:)
  • Oct 17 2013: Yes and no - without memory but with thinking ability we would start over but with some connections to the past through physical and genes. Without thinking ability, you have dementia and yes the person is lost slowly and painfully
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    Oct 17 2013: unfortunately yes but it can't hurt the subject ,and who lost at itself by losing his memory will not loosing it with the world , i think what doesn't hurt doesn't matter ,it's about us does matter if we'll be Apt to help this Man to have a honorable ending like he had a honorable beginning.
  • Oct 16 2013: Personally I do not think it is our memory that makes us who we are. It is only a reference or base.

    The most important point I'd like to make is that, when we lose our memory we lose the connection between our spirit and our brain. Our memory, and who we are, is still there. I see our brain as the 'receiver' of the body that receives imput from our spirit, if healthy.
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      Oct 17 2013: The connection between our spirit and our brain. Excellent point Adriaan. You've just given me another issue to research on.
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      Oct 17 2013: I somewhat believe if we lose memory of who we are but died happy or peaceful, our spirit would be in bliss. I think this article by Sandy Stevenson confirms that:

      ' Because you are leaving the 3D world where one uses memory in order to
      know something. You are heading for the 5th dimension where KNOWING is
      the way to operate. Your memory is disappearing to encourage you to
      use your ability to respond intuitively. It is time now to simply know
      what you need to know in any given moment. Losing your memory is a
      positive happening! It affects all age groups...'
      • Oct 17 2013: Hi Poch, Thanks for your kind words. I do not have much time right now so I'll leave a link to a booklet that deals with how the soul and the body interact. When this was first written the title used the word "intercourse' between soul and body. Since that word has only one meaning nowadays, it has been changed :)
        But this is the link, maybe you can copy and paste it.
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          Oct 17 2013: Great link Adriaan. Although I'd like to point out that the issue is more about loss of interaction between mind and soul and not the interaction between them. Thanks again.