Careful, Those Memories Could be Fake! / İpek Durkal

Sometimes I would hear a loud thud at the balcony window, and when I looked up, I would be distraught to see the tiny sparrow that had fallen to the ground and had stiffened up.

But once a sparrow got up and could flap its wings a few minutes later, which was a miracle for me. But quite the contrary; the small bird which collided with the glass at an unknown speed was actually displaying a “freeze response” to shield itself from the shock.

That’s why it was so stiff… As soon as the danger passed, it got up and went on with its life.
I learned this not from a veterinarian but from the 1997 book ‘Waking the Tiger – Healing Trauma’ by psychotherapists Peter A. Levine and Ann Frederick.

Can humans, like animals, heal their traumas naturally?

The book ‘Waking the Tiger – Healing Trauma’ describes human psychology, the moment of trauma and its aftermath in a very simple language based on nature and animals. The book also says that you can’t just give therapy to people all the time and explains why: “In the long run, I think that catharsis practices create an addiction to preserve catharsis and encourage the emergence of ‘false memories’. Due to the nature of trauma, reliving an experience through catharsis can re-traumatize rather than heal the person.”

This ‘false memories’ part was bothering me a lot because it happens to me from time to time. For example, I tell a story about my childhood and my mother says, “Daughter, yes, this happened, but you weren’t born yet.” I am not going to say previous life, mysticism, insight, etc… but it means that I heard that story from someone at some time and internalized it. The second book I am going to recommend is about these games our brains play on us.

Your Brain Makes You Believe

Why do conspiracy theories seem more convincing to most of us than the truth? Is it because they are more gripping, more fun, more scary or more of a mystery?

Let me introduce you to the book “The Believing Brain” by Prof. Michael Sherman, one of the most famous skeptics of our time.

“The reason I am a skeptic is not because I want to believe, but because I want to know,” Sherman wrote in his 2011 book The Believing Brain, explaining how the brain is an engine of belief, “The brain, which processes information from sensory data, first looks for a pattern and then finds meaning according to that pattern. These patterns that our brains create by connecting the dots are beliefs, and once beliefs are formed, brain finds evidence to reinforce them.”

According to Sherman, we tend to believe that what we see and hear is true. (The fact that we choose to believe in nonsense is a completely evolved characteristic of us, which is a separate topic). On the other hand, we may have crossed the thin border between conscious fiction and subconscious imagination.

“The Believing Brain” explains through science how to tell the difference between what we want to be true and what is actually true. The book includes examples from many scientific studies as well. Upon examining the neurochemistry associated with empty faith, magical thinking, and belief in the supernormal, it becomes evident that individuals with high levels of dopamine, one of the brain’s key regulators, are more prone to ascribe significance to coincidences and to perceive patterns and meanings that are not present.

If you want to get inside your brain, this book will guide you with pleasure.