Friday, April 10, 2020

[First Impression] Find Me In Your Memory

This time a really short impression after the first 4 episodes. I know I always say short and it grows into something more about things that barely touch the drama itself.
But in this case it's really this. I swear.

I lied.
One of the reasons is that the plot slowly unfolds before us and what seemed to be a story about a vapid and annoying girl being entangled with a reporter. This drama season deals with some unpleasant themes and uncomfortable truths. So it's only with the end of the episode 4 that we are handed the sketch of things to come.

This meadow is cursed. I tell you - cursed.
Our main character, Yi Jeonghun, has hyperthymesia - a condition that allows a person to remember and vividly recollect every personal experience from the age of around 11-13. It is different from a savant syndrome or any form of exceptional memory in two aspects: first, a person with hyperthymesia doesn't need any mnemonic techniques to help them remember, the memories are stored unconsciously and can be accessed immediately. Second - such people have troubles with allocentric memory - that is retaining facts about the world outside their own experiences. Which means, a person with hyperthymesia doesn't remember everything but only events and things that have a personal connection to them.

“Having a normal, healthy memory isn’t just about retaining the good stuff – it’s about forgetting the rest.” (source) Hyperthymesia, a form of autobiographical memory (abbreviated AM in scientific articles) may seem like it's nothing but remembering but that's actually a misconception. To quote one of the proposed definitions of the AM:
Autobiographical memory is memory for the events of one’s life. . . . [I]t constitutes a major crossroads in human cognition where considerations relating to the self, emotion, goals, and personal meanings all intersect” (Conway & Rubin, 1993, p. 103). This definition differentiates autobiographical memory as memory for events, in distinction from memory of other kinds of content such as facts or lists, or skills, such as how to ride a bicycle. It also invokes self-impinging emotions, goals, and personal meanings, which most authors agree are characteristic of autobiographical memories. However, as it stands it provides no clues as to how autobiographical memory develops, if it does.(1)
There is also no definite cause of the syndrome. I was wondering for a while why Yi Jeonghun doesn't know Hajin even though she was the closest friend of Seoyeon. Seoyeon could even talked about her, but he could not include that information as his personal sphere, he could even meet her but still that information wasn't stored. I read that people with hyperthymesia can't even describe what the person interviewing them is wearing when they close their eyes, so yes, maybe that's the answer.

There is also another aspect of the memory spectrum - the forgetting, a crucial part to actually keep the brain and mind healthy. I have found an article that deals with remembering and forgetting and apparently, due to a severe stress or trauma, some events might be suppressed (not forgotten as this is not an amnesia). And we have one case here - our superficial and vapid girl.
The Authors of the article regarding the emotional aspect remembering and forgetting state that:
[...] compatible with a motivational perspective on emotion (Hamann, 2001; Dolan, 2002; Wise, 2004), emotional valence appears to be critical for retrograde forgetting versus remembering. Perhaps positive emotion promotes retention of information that predicts reward (positive items), reflecting an influence of “return to the rewards, and to the cues marking the way to such rewards” (Wise, 2004). Thus, computing the positive and negative value of emotionally arousing stimuli might be a means that the brain uses to organize forgetting and remembering.(2)
Of course, there is, apparently, a whole discourse on positive versus negative emotions, their distinction and how they influence the forgetting and the process of hypermnesia.(3) And while psychology is murky at best, this is nevertheless an interesting and fairly uncharted field to research. 
And I should end it here. There are scientific articles explaining it better than I could.

This also feels like it hinges on the Kim Dongwuk's shoulders to carry the whole plot and he does that with a wonderful range. And since I still didn't watch any episode past 4, I can't say anything about the appearance of the obsessive stalker, who might be someone more than a stalker. And actually this is the most interesting subplot here, as for me. Because we have a guy, a store clerk, a timid one who allows to be trampled on and people treat him as such. Until one person shows him kindness, pushing him into an obsessive interest. Now, the question is - was he always like that, single-mindedly obsessing over people or events, or was that the trigger that unhinged him? We know he's dangerous, reliving five seconds of his life when a kind woman helped him collect the coins, we know he thinks no one should have her. And we know she's dead already.
And his focus shifts to Hajin, and yet - the same guy is seen close to her. The same guy seen with Seoyeon. The same guy he hates so much.
Now, I'm going to continue this.

1. Nelson K, Fivush R. The emergence of autobiographical memory: A social cultural developmental theory. Psychological Review. 2004;111:486–511.
2. Hurlemann R, Hawellek B, Matusch A, et al. Noradrenergic modulation of emotion-induced forgetting and remembering. J Neurosci. 2005; 25(27):6343–6349. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0228-05.2005.
3. Buchanan TW, Tranel D, Adolphs R. Emotional autobiographical memories in amnesic patients with medial temporal lobe damage. J Neurosci. 2005;25(12):3151–3160. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4735-04.2005