Right. I have no science to back this up, but I believe a large part of what we call “personality” is genetic. So, if I understand Skald’s scenario correctly, our man will lose his memories but he will still have the genetic basis of his personality. He will probably end up being much the same person as he lives and gains new memories. Sure, some events will shape that personality differently, but at some level you simply are who you are. He will not be an entirely new person, so I cannot agree that losing all of his memories is equivalent to suicide.
If the person had their brain scooped out and a new brain implanted, that would be suicide.
But amnesia doesn’t destroy your personality. It destroys your memories. You’re still you. Your personality is intact. Your memories don’t make you. I have no memories of being a two year old child, but that two year old child didn’t die. He’s still alive, and he’s me.
We forget 99% of everything that happens to us, and what we think we remember isn’t nearly as complete as we think it is. When we remember that party we went to last week we aren’t accessing a movie strored in our brains, we’re more imagining a party and filling in a few key bits of data. If you forget that party, did you die a little bit?
but I think the OP’s scenario, as stated, implies that the person’s personality would NOT be intact. The point of having the memory-wipe done is to eradicate memories that were exerting a negative effect on his personality NOW (PTSD and such). If those memories are gone (and more importantly, the person no longer knows they were ever there, as opposed to “I know something horrible happened to me but I can’t remember it”), his personality would necessarily change.
Example: If you were assaulted by clowns, resulting in a life-long and crippling fear of them, and then all memory of ever having been assaulted by clowns was excised from you, wouldn’t you then no longer be afraid of clowns? Or at least no more afraid of the creepy bastards than anyone would be?
Well, I know the OP explicitly stated that it’s just a show and I really should relax, but how exactly can the OmniWipe MemErase remove your memories of learning C# but still allow you to develop with C#?
In other words, even if you remove the memory of when that clown sodomized you in third grade, does that mean you aren’t afraid of clowns anymore? It seems to me that you’d still be afraid of clowns, you just wouldn’t know why. You’d still hate brussels sprouts, you just wouldn’t remember your mom serving them every Saturday. You’d still hate exercizing, you just wouldn’t remember being picked last for softball.
The mere fact that you couldn’t remember your past would change you, but it wouldn’t make you into a new person, any more than any other life-changing experience. When you got sodomized by the clown did that murder the old you and create a new version of you, just because you’re now afraid of clowns? Changing your personality isn’t suicide.
Suicide is the final act of the hopeless. “Life is suffering, it’ll never get any better, might as well end it.”
A memory wipe is neither final nor hopeless. It seems that the core motivation for that option is a chance at a new beginning, and hope for a better future. “I can have a better, happier life, if I can just shake off all this emotional baggage.”
Also, IMO, memory loss != personality loss, based on my experience with a severely Alzheimer’s/dementia inflicted family member. Forgetting your favorite song means it isn’t your favorite song anymore, but if you heard it again you’d like it - you don’t suddenly completely switch from liking country to liking hip hop. You still love a good steak and despise cabbage, although you might have to taste them again to realize it. Your favorite jokes will still be cheesy puns, and you’ll still find dick and fart jokes mildly offensive. You’ll lose bits and pieces of your personality based on various triggers, but much of what makes you who you are will remain.
OP have you ever read The Demolished Man?
In it there is a form of punishment called Demolition where are person is erased.
Actually, the C# example brings up another good point: if your memory were truly wiped, you’d have to learn everything over again, from potty training to walking to speaking. That’s a pretty crazy process for a thirty-year-old, say.
This is pretty much the theme of “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004, Jim Carrey), and (to a lesser extent) “Total Recall” (1990, Arnold Schwarzenegger). Maybe more like ego-suicide. In the aforementioned documentary studies the process caused tragic and unpleasant results.
By way of rebuttal, I offer you the sad and strange case of Clive Wearing, a British musicologist and keyboard player who, thanks to a viral infection, is unable to either remember his early life or to “save” new memories, leaving him in a perpetual state of the now. However, he is able to talk, dress himself, recognize his second wife (although he continually forgets that she’s been to visit him from moment to moment), and play the piano beautifully (despite having no memory of having received any kind of musical education). This is because while the viral infection damaged his cerebrum and thus his episodic memory, his cerebellum (which governs procedural memory) wasn’t damaged.
I don’t remember learning how to read, but I can still do it.
Dr Adder by K W Jeter features a type of artificial amnesia–one of the procedures offered by the doctor. It’s definitely suicide.
It’s an excellent book but I’ve only managed to read it once.
I don’t remember learning to walk, but I can still do it.
There are certain tasks that you learn to do without memory. You’re always told not to think about your golf swing, just do it. So I can easily imagine an amnesiac golfer would retain his golf skills, even if he didn’t remember playing golf.
But other things not so much. If I mention the word “supercallifragilisticexpialidocious” to a guy who’s been memory wiped, does he recognize the word? Does he recognize that it’s a nonsense word? How?
Or a simpler example. You probably don’t remember learning the word “apple”, since you probably learned it before you were three years old. You’ve just always known what an apple is. So we can imagine an amnesiac being shown an apple and being able to name it. Now show him a durian. If you showed me a durian fruit I’d be able to recognize it and name it because I’ve read stories about them, I’ve ran across them in markets in Chinatown, and so on. But if you remove my memory of learning what a durian is, would I still remember what a durian is?
If I remove your memory of your marriage, will you recognize your wife? According to your theory of memory, I’d still call a particular woman my wife even though I wouldn’t remember seeing her before. If I can look at a lineup of fruit and recognize the apple, why can’t I look at a lineup of women and recognize my wife?
The problem here is that we don’t really understand memory, but our experiences of having memories leads us to belive that we understand more than we really do. We remember a lot less than we think we do and a lot of learning paradoxically doesn’t seem to involve memory.
Once that you know of, you mean.