Memento and Amnesia

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In the 2000 movie Memento, many psychological arguments are presented. One of which is the comparison between Lenny and Sammy Jenkins, who both have been diagnosed with anterograde amnesia. Anterograde amnesia is the condition of being unable to form new memories. Both men can remember life before their accidents; Sammy can even allegedly remember how to give his wife insulin, something that would be impossible for him to learn after his accident. To test whether or not Sammy's problem was physical, he was subjected to a series of tests in which he had to pick up objects, and each time, the same object would shock him. (Sammy's story is summed up in the video) In theory, Sammy should have learned through classical conditioning, instinctually, to no longer pick up that object. Anterograde amnesia affects explicit memory; its sufferers are unable to make memories about events in their own lives or about the world around them. However, their ability to make implicit memories, that is, things we don't have to try and remember; instincts, should still be intact. In theory, Sammy should have learned through classical conditioning not to pick up the object that shocked him, but each time he received a shock he appeared as surprised and, well, shocked as he had the first time. In the movie, the investigators determined that Sammy's problem was due to psychological problems, not merely to the damage to his hippocampus. This depiction seems very accurate when cross-referenced with what we "know" in psychology. Sammy was unable to encode information into his long-term memory; therefore he preferred commercials to TV shows because he could follow along. Yet on a psychological level of analysis, he should have been able to demonstrate classical conditioning, as his implicit memory would have still been intact. The only potential flaw I can seem to find in the psychology of the movie is Lenny's "false memories." He remembers pinching his wife's thigh, but someone else plants the memory that he was giving her a shot. My question is, how would that implanted memory stay with him if he was no longer able to form new memories? According to the psychological analysis of the rest of the movie, shouldn't have he been unable to hold onto any new memories? Food for thought, people.

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This page contains a single entry by wiene055 published on October 23, 2011 2:33 PM.

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