Is Your Memory Trash Too?

Everyone at least once in their lives has done something they would like to forget; falling in front of an audience, being laughed at, or texting something very personal to the wrong person. Most people though, can recall the memory, and can deal with it and move on. There are people who when they go through a stressful situation, don’t remember it ever happening.

People with psychogenic amnesia, also named dissociative amnesia or functional amnesia, which I bet most of you haven’t heard of, don’t remember situations or issues they were involved in. Psychogenic amnesia is a case of memory loss due to psychological causes instead of neurological cause. This is a mental illness that is just as real as anxiety od depression even thought not a huge amount of people have it.

Dissociative amnesia happens when the person blocks out some or all the information about a certain event or situation, usually it’s a stressful or traumatic event, leaving them unable to remember important information which can include gaps in the story. It can also involve breakdowns of consciousness, awareness, identity, or perception. This is very different from anterograde amnesia (trouble making new memories) and retrograde amnesia (trouble remembering old memories) which are caused by physical trauma to the brain instead of psychological trauma.

Functional amnesia is very similar with PTSD in where it based off a traumatic event and some with PTSD can’t remember either, but the main difference is the effects on the body and those with psychogenic amnesia cannot remember regardless of what is done. PTSD symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Severe anxiety
  • Uncontrollable thoughts about the event
  • Easily startled
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Among other changes in emotion or thought

Psychogenic amnesia really does not have many symptoms, so it is very difficult to diagnose unless the sufferer brings it up to a psychologist. The symptoms include:

  • Inability to remember past experiences
  • Inability to remember personal information
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of episodic memories (experiences or episodes in your life)

In order to be diagnosed with functional amnesia you need to go through a long series of tests to rule out neurological illness or other illness also including a memory problem due to medication. Certain conditions can mirror psychogenic amnesia such as diseases, head injuries, drug/alcohol intoxications and sleep deprivation. If a physical illness isn’t found the person will be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist who are specifically trained to treat mental illness. These doctors use assessment tools and designed interviews to evaluate.

Even though recovery for psychogenic amnesia is very small there is still types of treaments that could be done to assist in remembering or coping with this illness. The goal of this treatment is to relieve symptoms and control any problem behavior. The best treatment depends on each individual case, it’s based on the symptoms and the severity of the memory loss.

  • Psychotherapy: Techniques designed to encourage those to use their words and communicate about problems and increase mindfulness of the problem.   
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Focus on changing the dysfunctional thinking patterns that create the feeling and behaviors the person exudes.
  • Medication: Treats the depression or anxiety
  • Creative Therapy (art, music, pet): Allows the person to explore ways to communicate and express thoughts and feelings in a safe and creative way.
  • Clinical Hypnosis: Increase relaxation, concentration, and focused attention to alter the state of consciousness to allow the walls in their head to come down letting the flow of feeling, thought, and memory they have blocked to come back. This can be very damaging and could create false memories.

Goldberg, Joseph. “Mental Health: Dissociative Amnesia.” WebMD, WebMD, 6 Apr. 2019,

Harrison, Neil A, et al. “Psychogenic Amnesia: Syndromes, Outcome, and Patterns of Retrograde Amnesia.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 24 Aug. 2017,

 “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 July 2018,

“Psychogenic Amnesia: Symptoms, Causes, Illness & Condition.” The Human Memory, 27 Sept. 2019,

My Take On A Mental Illness

This week instead of being all about straight facts, I thought I could share a personal experience and add facts into it. This week I want to talk about Bipolar Disorder. I have struggled with it my whole life, and I know what you are going to say… Tyler Bipolar doesn’t show up until you get older, but it does show up. Bipolar though cannot be diagnosed until adulthood (18 at the earliest) usually around 21-22 years of age.

I should first start by saying, bipolar is one of the most difficult mental disorders to diagnose especially in children. Back in 2006 a study was completed on bipolar disorder about misdiagnosis and the study stated this, “’69 percent of patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed initially and more than one-third remained misdiagnosed for 10 years or more.’” (NCBI). The study also referenced another study that says how Bipolar Disorder, on average, took five to seven years for a proper diagnosis to be made.

Bipolar is typically diagnosed as unipolar depression (also known as clinical depression) during an episode (mood swing) of depressive mood or it can be diagnosed as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) during an episode of mania. Getting incorrect treatment can make the whole disorder worse especially if treated with an anti-depressant to curb the low mood.

Bipolar Disorder is a brain and behavior disorder that creates extreme shifts in a person’s mood and energy levels making it difficult for a person to function during the normal daily life. Bipolar episodes can trigger different symptoms depending on if it’s a manic episode or depressive episode. Mania is a super hype mood where you have energy and depressive mood is the complete opposite.

Symptoms of mania:

  • Increased energy, activity and restlessness
  • Euphoric mood
  • Extreme irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Racing thoughts, fast talking, jumping between ideas
  • Sleeplessness
  • Heightened sense of self-importance (thinking you’re the sh*t)
  • Spending sprees
  • Increased sex drive
  • Abuse of drugs
  • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
  • Denial that anything is wrong

Symptoms of Depressive:

  • Sad, anxious, or empty-feeling mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
  • Loss of interest
  • Decreased sex drive (usually to nothing)
  • Decreased energy, fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Restless and irritable
  • Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
  • Change in appetite, unintended weight gain or loss
  • Bodily symptoms not caused by physical illness or injury
  • Self-harm
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar has many branches each with different severities:

  • Bipolar 1 classified by episode lasting at least seven days or symptoms are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care
  • Bipolar 2 classified by defined patterns of episodes but episodes shift between hypomanic episodes (less intrusive mania) and being normal
  • Cyclothymic Disorder classified by mild forms of hypomania that shifts with hypodepression (less intrusive depression) for at least 2 years, but doesn’t reach other bipolar standards
  • Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder classified by four or more episode of major depression, mania, hypodepression, and hypomania, or mixed symptoms within a year.

The “fun” thing with Bipolar Disorder is that there is no cure, but there are treatments options to manage the symptoms. Those are medication (not completely getting rid of symptoms), psychotherapy, and getting parents and friends to understand the disorder and do what they can to support the individual with this disorder during an episode.

I made this post not to get sympathy or to get pity, I made this post to educate those people who may be struggling with this disorder or to help those who have a family member or friend with this disorder. My story went a little like this; A little kid with lots of energy brought to therapy and diagnosed with ADHD and was put on medication, the meds made me suicidal but I was 5 so trouble, I was taked off those meds and was put in therapy for the rest of my childhood. I would never stay with a doctor so I jumped around from therapist to therapist and my moods got stronger and they lasted longer. At this point my therapist had no idea what this could be, but my mom had a feeling it was bipolar and she tried to talk to my therapists about this, but none would listen because I was “too young” to be showing symptoms. As I got older the more manic episodes I got and the more violent I became I started to get into my moms face I would yell and scream, eventually the time came where it got too much and I wound up in a psychiatric hospital and put on anti-psychotic medication. In the end my life was hectic, but it came out with a diagnosis almost 10 years after I showed symptoms and I am now stable.

Helpful website on how to support those with Bipolar Disorder (Depressive Episode)  (Manic Episode) (overall support)

“Frequently Asked Questions about Bipolar Disorder.” Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, 15 June 2017,

Moss, Gabrielle. “5 Mental Health Disorders That Are Often Misdiagnosed.” Bustle, Bustle, 9 June 2016,

Singh, Tanvir, and Muhammad Rajput. “Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.” Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), Matrix Medical Communications, Oct. 2006,

Why Do People Join Cults?

November 18, 1978 over 900 people died at the hands of one individual, Jim Jones. All these people died in a mass suicide. Jim Jones convinced his 900+ followers that the government is coming to take and torture them to death and the only way to be free is to drink a concoction he created which was laced with cyanide. His followers believed they could go to a utopian society free from all life’s hardships and they could live happily. Jim Jones was a leader of the most famous cult of all time.

Let’s say you go to work in the morning ready for the day, you get your morning coffee and settle at your desk and then here comes your manager looking angry. She yells at you for not working late last night to finish your presentation for the big boss and you get fired. On your way home your significant other leaves you for someone else and finally a big truck comes speeding by into a puddle that splashes, and you get soaking wet. You would be feeling pretty crappy. These are the type of people cult members and leaders look for to recruit.  

People join cults for one reason, and one reason only; The illusion of comfort. The thought of a cult might not sound comforting with the history of them, but comfort can be found in different scenarios. Cults satisfy our needs for answers even if they don’t seem realistic. People join cults because the leader preaches clarity and preach they know all absolute answers for tough questions about stuff like meaning of life or religion.

Another reason people join cults is the people who are recruiting, prey on those who have low self-esteem. Any race, financial standing, all backgrounds if they have a lower self-esteem they will become prey, but the predators are usually very nice and open. They show the person affection to gain friendship and trust before they finally end with the recruitment. This leads into the recruits being showered in love giving them a reason to stay and join in the faith.

On that track cult leaders stress the “them vs. us mentality” where the leaders isolate their members from people outside the cult. They also make those in the cult feel superior to those outside the group which in turn leads the cult members to isolating themselves from family and friends.

The whole cult scenario are run by pure mind-control which the followers do not recognize. Members typically don’t know they are in a cult. Four ways of this mind control are public humiliation, self-incrimination, brainwashing, and paranoia. Self-incrimination is using statements written or said by a person to shame that same person publicly which is different from public humiliation which is making the person admit their failures and thoughts out loud to an audience who has an open floor to judge. Brainwashing is done by repeating various lies and distortions until the followers find it difficult to separate what is real and what is a fantasy.

No matter the type of cult, it can leave a real dangerous and nasty lasting effect. An ex-cult member years later even indefinitely have psychological effects. These include irritability, mystical states, heightened paranoia, compulsive attention to detail and many more. Be wary of those who show up in your time of need, many cult members are actually people you already know.

“10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Cults.” Online Psychology Degree Guide,

Manza, Lou. “How Cults Exploit One of Our Most Basic Psychological Urges.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 14 Apr. 2016, Editors. “Jonestown.”, A&E Television Networks, 18 Oct. 2010,

Laughter: The Best Medicine

Imagine you are walking down the street in the dead of winter, there is ice everywhere. You are walking down the street and a lady, and her husband are coming out of the house to get to their car. Suddenly she starts to slip and slide, her body is flailing around, arms trying to grab the railing, and it ends with her on her butt in the snow. I can’t be the only one who would start to giggle and have to clear my throat so she wouldn’t notice me laughing at her.

In order to learn why we laugh we must understand how we laugh. When we laugh the brain ‘lights’ up in many parts and each part has a specific function. First the sensory processing area of the brain processes visual signals like flailing or someone’s facial expression. The cerebral cortex is the next part that lights, this is where the stimuli is being analyzed, whether it be someone falling or a verbal joke. The next two sections that light up are the right hemisphere which is the intellectual analysis to understand the joke and the frontal lobe that is involved in the social emotional responses. Finally, the motor sections respond with laughter.

Obviously, there are many reasons to why we laugh, but why do we laugh when someone goes through misfortune?  The biggest reason to why we laugh while other are slipping on a banana peel or getting smack in the groin would be mental distance. Guys may not be able to fully mental distance though when it comes to groin shots in movies. Mental Distancing is a way for people to psychologically distance from the situation occurring and that makes us more prone to laugh out loud. Seeing other people getting hurt is funny because we don’t feel empathy for the victim since we are distancing.

Another big reasons for why we laugh is all about the facial expression of the person getting hurt or the person telling us the joke. All people have a part in the brain that recognizes a fearful expression or recognizes a situation that should make us afraid. When people are slipping or ice or walking into a pole it creates a ‘fear face’, the wide eyes and open mouth. When someone is having a fear response to a non-life-threatening situation it creates a backwards effect on those watching. We get amused because we realize the situation isn’t serious, but they are still freaking out about it.

The superiority theory is also a reason we laugh at others. We find the situation they are in stressful, but we ourselves are not in that situation so it’s funny! We would be the superior person since we didn’t make the mistake. We all laugh at issues that cause us stress which is why comedians are so successful.

Why is laughing healthy?

  • Mentally: Helps us cope with life by getting rid of our tensions whether is be physical or mental
  • Immune Strengthening: Increases blood platelets (limits obstruction of arteries and lowers blood pressure), Increase in Gamma-interferon (disease fighting), Increase in T-cells (immune response) and B-cells (Disease-destroying antibodies)
  • Respiratory: Clears the respiratory tract by dislodging mucus and increase salivary immunoglobulin A which protects us from infectious organisms
  • Pain: Eases pain by producing natural painkillers
  • Physical: Facial, leg, back, abdominal, and diaphragm muscle a workout

Brain, Marshall. “How Laughter Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 27 Jan. 2020,

Rutherford, Fiona. Study Finds Brain Confusion Causes Us to Laugh at the Misfortune of Others, 12 Aug. 2014,

“The Laughing Brain 1: How We Laugh.” Science NetLinks,