Free Essay

Living in the Moment

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ohmessyme
Words 1561
Pages 7
Living in the Moment
Written by Alan Bellows on 25/09/10 In memory of the Infamous H.M “I don’t remember things,” Henry explained to the unfamiliar female interviewer. She seemed very curious about how he spends a typical day, and about what he had eaten for breakfast, but his efforts to summon the information from his mind were fruitless. He could easily answer her questions regarding his childhood and early adult years, but the indefinite expanse of time since then was bereft of memories. In fact, from moment to moment Henry feels almost as though he has just awakened from a deep sleep, with the fleeting remnants of a dream always just beyond his grasp. Each experience, dull or dramatic, evaporates from his memory within a few dozen heartbeats and leaves no trace.
For over fifty years Henry has lived with anterograde amnesia, a form of profound memory loss which prevents new events from reaching his long-term memory. As a result his only memories are those he possessed prior to his amnesia, and the small window of moments immediately preceding the present.

The amnesia frequently depicted in fiction is a very rare retrograde variety known as dissociative fugue, where one’s identity and all memories prior to the pivotal event are compromised. In contrast, anterograde amnesia does not deprive the sufferer of their identity, their past, or their skills; it merely prevents new memories from forming. As a consequence one’s final memories are frozen in perpetuity, often accompanied by a constant sensation that one has just awoken from an “unconscious” state which filled the intervening time.
Henry’s handicap is the unintended result of experimental brain surgery performed in 1953. In his late teens the highly intelligent student began to experience frequent grand mal seizures, characterized by loss of consciousness, muscle spasms, and rigidity. The frequency of these epileptic events increased to the point that he was stricken with spontaneous episodes of unconsciousness every few minutes. After exploring every other avenue known to contemporary medicine, Dr. William Scoville administered a radical resection of the man’s medial temporal lobes in a desperate bid to reclaim some quality of life for young Henry. In that respect the experimental operation was a success– the patient’s severe seizures were reduced dramatically after the operation– however the surgeon was distressed to discover that the removal of the hippocampi had stripped Henry of his ability to form new memories.
The development seriously hindered Henry from pursuing a normal life, but due to his condition he quickly became the world’s most famous subject in the study of the human brain. His real identity is a closely kept secret to this day, and he is referred to in medical literature by only his initials, “H.M.” However unfortunate, H.M.’s handicap helped to propel memory research beyond the realm of the philosophical for the first time in history. Earlier efforts to explore memory had been limited to animal studies, where scientists deliberately damaged various regions of lab animals’ brains to monitor any loss of memory functions. Such experiments were not only unpleasant for the animals, but frustratingly inconclusive for the researchers.
H.M. has been described as a friendly and articulate man with a higher-than-average IQ, sporting a charming personality in spite of his condition. Now in his early eighties, he still vividly recalls events from his childhood such as the stock market crash of 1929, but he is stricken with renewed grief every time he learns of his mother’s death. The grief is short-lived, however, as the substance of the news soon slips from the feeble grasp of his “working memory.” In an interview with researchers, he described the sensation:
“Right now, I’m wondering, have I done or said anything amiss? You see, at this moment everything looks clear to me, but what happened just before? That’s what worries me. It’s like waking from a dream. I just don’t remember.”
Like most anterograde amnesiacs, Henry experienced a degree of retrograde amnesia as well, blurring the details of the months leading up to the fateful operation.
Similar cases of anterograde amnesia have appeared over the years, often caused by Korsakoff’s Syndrome, a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency brought on by chronic alcoholism, malnutrition, eating disorders, or poisoning. This strongly suggests that thiamine is necessary to maintain the memory-writing features of the brain. Some abnormal viral infections can also produce the affliction, as is the case with a famed music expert named Clive Wearing. His ability to store memories was destroyed by a rogue infection of the herpes simplex 1 virus which attacked his brain’s hippocampus rather than triggering the typical cold sores. Other known causes include brain tumors, oxygen deprivation, and dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In each instance it is found that the hippocampi have been compromised, indicating that these small structures are vital in laying down long-term memories. The hippocampus does not seem to play a role in recollection, however, since existing memories remain accessible.
Though anterograde amnesiacs are blocked from storing new information, researchers were astonished to discover that subjects are nonetheless capable of mastering new and complex tasks over time. Subjects who repeatedly practice skills such as backwards writing or guitar-playing can demonstrate measurable improvement, though in each instance the subject believes that he or she is attempting the task for the first time. This insight cast serious doubt upon the long-held belief that all memory is stored in a common mental reservoir. It also demonstrated that proceduralmemory– the “how to” memory of motor skills– is not governed by the exact same circuitry asepisodic memory (autobiographical events) and semantic memory (general knowledge and facts). A diagram of one of Henry M's living spaces, and his depiction of it three years after moving out. Additionally, some patients have experienced the Tetris Effect hours or days after playing the game during experiments; they describe vivid dreams of falling Tetris shapes though they possess no conscious memory of the game’s existence.
A neuroscientist named Suzanne Corkin has been following Henry’s M.’s progress for about forty-three years, but each time she introduces herself he greets her as though he is meeting her for the first time. One one occasion, however, a nurse mentioned to Henry that “Dr. Corkin” had been asking about him, and he responded by asking, “Suzanne?” Though he could not say who she was, he had somehow managed to associate her first and last name.
Over the years a modest amount of semantic information has actually managed to seep into Henry’s long-term memory, suggesting that his brain may be struggling to find alternate pathways with sporadic success. He knows that a president named John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and he can draw a roughly accurate diagram of a home where he lived for a few years following his surgery. Henry seems untroubled by the elderly face which stares back at him from the mirror, suggesting that he is unsurprised by the notion that decades that have passed since his life-changing operation. When asked what he thought about how he looked, he responded matter-of-factly, “I’m not a boy.” He also seems to have learned that his memory is broken and that scientists are studying him to discover more about the human mind. Once, when asked whether he is happy, Henry responded “Yes” without hesitation. He followed with, “the way I figure it is, what they find out about me helps them to help other people.”
Small talk with H.M. tends to be a bit repetitive, but occasionally revealing. During a visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conduct memory tests, Dr. Corkin asked Henry if he knew where he was as they strolled down a nondescript corridor. “Why of course,” he replied with a grin, “I’m at MIT!”
Taken aback, Dr. Corkin asked, “How do you know that?”
Laughing, Henry pointed at a nearby student wearing an MIT sweater. “Got you that time!”
Not only did the event demonstrate his intact sense of humor, but it showed that his powers of deduction are unhindered by his memory malady. On another occasion Henry was asked what he does to try to remember things. “Well,” he replied with a chuckle, “That I don’t know ’cause I don’t remember what I tried.”
In a rare example of scientific correctness in Hollywood, the reality of anterograde amnesia was depicted with reasonable accuracy in the 2001 film Memento. The filmmakers applied the concept of reverse chronology to mimic the effects of the condition, allowing viewers to share in the protagonist’s confusion regarding prior events.
Owing to his unfortunate ailment Henry M. will never be able to understand the inestimable gift he has given to the field of neurology. The amnesic octogenarian presently resides in a Connecticut nursing home, where even today he continues to help researchers to coax secrets from the human mind. Furthermore, Henry’s lifelong contribution to science will not cease upon his death; he and his court-appointed guardian have agreed to donate his brain to science so that neurologists may one day examine the offending lesions in detail.
Though science still possesses a poor understanding of memory’s machinations, Henry and other sufferers of anterograde amnesia have provided a considerable number of indispensable clues. Their unwitting contributions will not be soon forgotten

Similar Documents

Premium Essay


...LIVING IN THE MOMENT By: Jason Mraz If this life is one act Why do we lay all these traps We put them right in our path When we just wanna be free I will not waste my days Making up all kinds of ways To worry 'bout all the things That will not happen to me So I just let go Of what I know I don't know And I know I only do this by Living in the moment Living my life Easy and breezy With peace in my mind With peace in my heart With peace in my soul Wherever I'm going, I'm already home Living in the moment I'm letting myself off the hook For things I've done I let my past go past And now I'm having more fun I'm letting go of the thoughts That do not make me strong And I believe this way Can feel the same for everyone And if I fall asleep I know you'll be the one Who'll always remind me To live in the moment Living my life Easy and breezy With peace in my mind With peace in my heart With peace in my soul Wherever I'm going, I'm already home I can't walk through life facing backwards I have tried, Tried more than once to just make sure And I was denied The future I'd been searching for I spun around and hurt no more By living in the moment Living my life Easy and breezy With peace in my mind With peace in my heart With peace in my soul Wherever I'm going, I'm already home I'm living in the moment (I'm letting myself off) I'm living my life (The hook for things I've done) Just takin' it easy (I let my past go past) With......

Words: 432 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Lenn Goodman

...PROGRESS NOTES GROUP SESSION Group therapy Type of Group: ____________________________________ Primary Counselor _________________ |CLIENT NAME: james casal |DATE: 5/19/2011 | |GROUP TOPIC: denial |DURATION: 60 min | Functional Areas Addressed: Alcohol/Drug History Employment Communicable Disease Social/Leisure/Spirituality Family/Significant Other(s) Tobacco Use Activities of Daily Living Legal Involvement Mental/Emotional Health Education/Vocation Medical Health Gambling Housing Military History Other (describe) _______ _____________________ Client Participation: Active/Eager Supportive Attentive Resistant Disruptive |Counselor Comments on Client Participation: | | | | ...

Words: 1275 - Pages: 6

Free Essay


...whole world as well. Nevertheless, tragedies that people have been suffering, are still taking place. They are not natural but sadly man-made catastrophes. The root of cause is not in external and top down factors such as security measures, laws, and policies, but it is originated from consciousness of human. Unquestionably, the issue should be solved at the root. Hence, mindfulness, which could help people to deal with the causes, would be a solution for this problem. As an ancient notion that was taught as the heart of Buddhism’s teaching, mindfulness was proved as a valuable practice in health care and life that help people deal with their suffering and reach happiness. Religion In Buddhism’s position, mindfulness means awareness moment-by-moment in the present without forming attachment and making judgment. Mindfulness is comprised of consciousness and awareness. The motivation of Buddhism is practice that can help people to reach the enlightenment and happiness. Mindfulness was taught as the heart of the practice leading to enlightenment. As a legacy of Buddhism, mindfulness has the power to liberate human being from those delusions. The ability to stay firmly in the present is another way to convey the mindfulness’s meaning as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Buddhist monk, once said in his book: “Life is available only in the present...

Words: 1693 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay


...Multiple Choice Questions 1. How did the Girl Scouts change to meet the needs of Hispanic families? A) Training focused on how to address a Hispanic woman. B) Training focused on the importance of building a relationship. C) Brothers were encouraged to attend some events. D) Las Posadas, a Hispanic Christmas tradition that pays homage to Mary and Joseph's search for an inn, is being conducted by Girl Scout troops in some areas. E) all of the above Answer: E Page: 157 Difficulty: easy 2. A segment of a larger culture whose members share distinguishing values and patterns of behavior is known as a(n) _____. A) market segment B) subculture C) ethnic group D) reference group E) subgroup Answer: B Page: 158 Difficulty: moderate 3. Many companies develop special marketing mixes for a segment of a larger culture whose members share distinguishing values and patterns of behavior. These segments are known as _____. A) subsegments B) subgroups C) secondary markets D) subcultures E) reference groups Answer: D Page: 158 Difficulty: moderate 4. The degree to which an individual behaves in a manner unique to a subculture depends on _____. A) the extent to which the individual identifies with that subculture B) how long the individual has been in this......

Words: 5884 - Pages: 24

Premium Essay

Oscar Wilde Research Paper

...Most people exist, that is all.” According to the Cambridge Dictionaries Online, to live means to continue to be alive or have life. However, Oscar Wilde used the word live to define doing things you haven’t done before and not worrying about anything else other than the moment you are in at that time. Living means not caring about people’s judgments, not letting anything stop you, such as the fear of making the wrong decision, from appreciating the present. Contrastingly, the word “exist” means clearly seeing what is in front of you but lacking the ability to react and have emotions towards it. Existing instead of living means being physically present but having your mind in a completely different scenario. That’s how I felt at the...

Words: 851 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Comparative Essay on Robert Frost's Poetry

...(25). This suggests a place far from town and set deep in the country. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is set in a remote woods, far from any homes. Each location in the settings of the poems is remote and far from city life. This suggests that the narrator is accustomed to the countryside and its way of life and that he most likely enjoys this type of life. The narrator also has an appreciation of nature. This is immediately evident in the fact that each poem is centered on nature and uses the themes of nature to establish the narrator’s points. Each poem involves an interaction with nature, such as a ride in the woods and swinging from birch branches. Beyond the interactions with nature, the natural also works to mark moments of emotional significance to the narrator. “Birches” recalls a fond memory of swinging from birch branches and also brings to view the narrator’s desire to experience that freedom again, “So was I once myself a swinger of birches./ And so I dream of going back to be” (41-42). The...

Words: 1042 - Pages: 5

Free Essay


...Living in the moment can be difficult in todays’ fast pace society. We’re always on the move and never have time to relax. When meditating though, one can achieve living in the moment and relaxation all at the same time. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years for religious and personal purposes. Meditation has also become a popular topic of research for universities and hospitals like Benson-Henry institute. When meditating one is engaging in the practice of relaxation and living for the moment. Meditation is a built in instinct we all have. One just has to learn how to tap into their natural ability to start rejuvenating their mind and body. There are hundreds of different ways to meditate and there is no one technique suitable for everyone. Most people associate meditation to just one practice. The practice of sitting crossed legged with a clear state of mind. This is a very popular form of meditation but one does not need to sit cross legged or even clear their mind to meditate. One just needs to find what is suitable for them. There are four main categories for meditation mindful, spiritual, movement and, focused meditation. Mindful meditation is when one sits crossed legged and enters a flow like state of mind. This means you allow your mind to flow from one thought to the next without really focusing on one particular thing. It is also the most popular practice of meditation in the Midwest. Spiritual meditation is the practice of using vibrations or......

Words: 709 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Ikea Case

...FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Countdown to the 2013 IKEA Catalogue! Petaling Jaya, 16 August 2012 – Let your imagination run wild with the infinite possibilities of making your precious moments at home come true as we count down to the launch of the much awaited 2013 IKEA Catalogue. In anticipation of the arrival of the new catalogue on 30th August, drop by the IKEA store between 21st to 29th August to visit the larger than life IKEA Countdown Room display that will showcase different room settings every day to inspire you to recreate your special moments at home with your family or loved ones. Experience the magic moments of the IKEA Countdown Room Between 21st to 29th August, the IKEA Countdown Room will feature different room settings of a home every day. From the living room and bedroom, to the kid’s room and kitchen, be inspired to complete your moments at home with IKEA. There will be a host of inspiring and engaging activities and games for the family and friends with attractive prizes up for grabs throughout all of the nine days. Loads of IKEA furniture can be won daily in the IKEA Malaysia Facebook contest from 21st to 29th August as well. Celebrity chef Anis Nabilah, host of TV cooking programmes Icip-Icip and Sesedap, will also be on hand to conduct a cookie baking demonstration. For entertainment, up and coming acoustic guitar player Amir Jahari will be serenading visitors with his mix of soulful and sweet tunes. On 21st August, popular comedian Suhaimi Yusof will......

Words: 1685 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Once More to the Lake Critique

...create a vivid picture through his adult perspective and the perspective of his little boy. He recalls the pristine color of the lake, the smells that seemed to remain stagnant in the woods, and the way everything seemed to look the same. Throughout the memoir, White not only establishes himself as a father taking his boy on a vacation but also as a young boy reliving his childhood experience. It is through detailed explanations of the scenery, the reminiscence of once lived memories, and current conditions of the lake that make White seem like he is living in a dual existence. “I seemed to be living in a dual existence. I would be in the middle of some simple act, I would be picking up a bait box or laying down a table fork, or I would be saying something, and suddenly it would be not I but my father …” (White p. 4). White summarizes his memoir with this one sentence by allowing the reader to see the memory and the present moment at the same time. The theme seems to carry throughout his piece in a detailed and structured style creating a vivid picture of the lake, his son, and his profound memories from years ago. “. . . and as I was always the first up I would dress softly so as not to wake the others, and sneak out into the sweet outdoors and start...

Words: 693 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Cultural Context

...Cultural Context The cultural context refers to the type of society in which a text is set-it’s structures, values and day-to-day rituals. Comparing the texts I have studied under Cultural Context mode involves entering the world of each text and comparing the ways in which the lives of the central characters are influenced by the worlds in which they live. The three texts I have studied are Lies of Silence (LS) by Brian Moore, Plough and the Stars (PS) playwrite by Sean O’Casey and Il Postino (IP) directed by Micheal Radford. These novelists, dramatists and film directors obviously employ their own distinctive narrative techniques. I was interested in studying a significant range of similarities in the way LS, PS and IP deliver their respective tales. The setting is easily comparable in all texts. IP was set in a small island off the coast of Italy around the 1950’s. Communism was the main political headline in this text, where a famous Italian poet, Pablo Neruda, was exiled from his own country and forced to live elsewhere for a short while due to the fact he was a communist. During this time also, Europe was struggling to cope from World War II. PS was set in Dublin, 1916. The Easter Rising was at stake. We receive an insight into the lives of the Irish people during The Troubles. There was also a feud between Socialism and Republicanism. LS is set in Belfast in the 1950’s when the Northern Troubles were at its climax. The setting in this text is dominated by the......

Words: 1880 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Offred's Struggle to Balance Hope

...Rhea Hunjan English Oct 10th 2013 How does Offred change her way of coping while under different circumstances? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood shows a women’s life within a totalitarian society. Offred, the protagonist and narrator, struggles to remain sane within herself, this is express through her internal battle of balance of hope between her past, and the present she is in. As she tries to handle the different situations, her coping methods vary with her state of mind within the circumstance. Offred’s struggle is manifested in two different occasions through the book. Her hope to stay sane in one situation is done by her reminiscing the past she had and telling us that her past life identity must be hidden from others, while under different circumstances she copes by convincing herself that the present is where all her attention should be, and who she is now is who she must remain to survive. As Offred struggles to keep her sanity, she uses different methods to cope with her situations. Towards the beginning of the book, in Chapter 14, Offred tells us that she has “another name” however using it is forbidden. She also says “ I keep the knowledge of this name like something hidden, some treasure. I’ll come back to dig up, one day. I think of this name as buried”. This statement shows how she want to keep her identity hidden from this world, so one day if free to go from this situation she can come back for her name, as she connotes her name with a......

Words: 1205 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Business Law

...Comment on the film "The moments of happiness" "The moments of happiness" describes a story of an Indian family whose family members were living separately because of work. The main character, whose name is Raj, was busily working in New York City and had not came back to his own country for about 8 years. After 8 years, he finally decided to go back and see his family, especially his father, who had some problems with him before he went to New York. While he was there, his father was diagnosed with cancer. It gave Raj a shock. Raj tried his best to make up the things that he did not do with his father during the past years and attempted to get his father cured no matter what way it took. Nevertheless, his father died in the end. But his father shared every moment of his remaining life with his family members. What is more, he was never afraid of death and made every moment happy in his remaining life. Four issues in this movie made a profound impression on me. First, gender discrimination: Raj asked his wife why she needs to work, and rather than being a wife who looks after the house and children. Besides, Raj's mother said she did not study when she was young because she is a female. Second, racial discrimination: Raj put his all efforts into his work and eventually achieved success in his project, however, his company transferred his project to another staff member who is Native American. Third, immigration problems: To a foreigner, it is really hard to be a......

Words: 840 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

How Does Fitzgerald Present Hope In The Great Gatsby

...time to define whether someone is living the American Dream or not. It is comprehended simply by the book’s cover that the story ahead will entail a loss or great sadness, as seen through the light blue anomaly directly under the teary eyes, as if supposed to be a tear and not just a stain on a photograph. The American Dream is quite a known part of the United States, so much that even people not from or in the US know what the dream is, which is a main reason many people to immigrate to the United States, a place of hope and opportunity. Although the American Dream is defined by the...

Words: 726 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Under Armour

...what may never be, or what could no longer be? Choosing the right path is never easy, its a decision we make with only our hearts to guide us. But sometimes we find our way to something better... sometimes we fight through the regret and the remorse of our mistakes, our malice and our jealousy and the shame we feel for not being the people we were meant to be...and thats when we find our way to something better....or when something better finds its way to us. -Imagine a future moment in your life where all your dreams come true. You know, it's the greatest moment of your life and you get to experience it with one person. Who's standing next to you?  -when you stop fighting, you stop living. so.. find your fight. then fight like hell 'til your battle has won.  -You have one chance, one life and what you do with it is up to you.  -People are going to disappoint you, I get that, I kind of expect that but, what happens if one day you wake-up and realize you are the disappointment  -At this moment there are 6,470,818,671 people in the world. Some are running scared. Some are coming home. Some tell lies to make it through the day. Others are just not facing the truth. Some are evil men, at war with good. And some are good, struggling with evil. Six billion people in the world, six billion souls. And sometimes... all you need is one. -Every song ends but is that any reason not to enjoy the music?  "Truth is still absolute. Believe that. Even when that truth is......

Words: 2218 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay


...become happier. So how do these researchers define happiness? Psychologist Ed Diener, author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, describes what psychologists call “subjective well-being” as a combination of life satisfaction and having more positive emotions than negative emotions. Martin Seligman, one of the leading researchers in positive psychology and author of Authentic Happiness, describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the “feel good” part of happiness. Engagement refers to living a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose. Seligman says that all three are important, but that of the three, engagement and meaning make the most difference to living a happy life. Moment-by-moment vs. long term Researchers also distinguish between the moment-by-moment feeling of happiness produced by positive emotions and...

Words: 539 - Pages: 3