Tag Archives: Mental Health

It’s More Than a Movie: Prosthetic Memories

By Lizzy Sebuck

Have you ever wandered off into a day dream during class? Oh, no, no, no! Not YOU, you studious student, you, but surely you’ve heard of this happening to others. What happens when you reflect? Do you think about your dog? Your family? Your journey from adolescence to adulthood? The accomplishments you’ve made and what you have left to overcome? Are you sure you’re not just thinking about the plot to Homeward Bound?

The Theory of Prosthetic Memory states that humans often substitute memories or ideas they have seen in media entertainment in place of memories from their own reality. In Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture the argument is made that modernity makes new forms of public cultural memory possible. Alison Landsberg, the theorist behind prosthetic memory, reviews the effects that mass media, marketing, and visual art can have on a person. Landsberg’s point is that when you observe visual media, the short-term effects may be the shedding of a few tears or leaving  the theater joyful from comedy, but the long-term effects are as complex as the shaping of character and personal development in the individual viewer. Think about it: your growing appreciation and respect for your elders could be a deeply-rooted instinct you picked up from watching Chance, Sassy, and Shadow work it out from way back when.

“Prosthetic memories are adopted as the result of a person’s experience with a mass cultural technology of memory that dramatizes or recreates a history that he or she did not live” (Landsberg, 29).

The development of graphic design technology and the enhancement of visual effects has played an enormous role in aiding the cinematic experience to make movie-watching more realistic than ever. It’s the development of these cinematic advances that helps audiences gather a thorough understanding of the themes and emotion in films. The almost touchable reality that James Cameron created through the introduction of new 3D visual imaging in the widely famous Avatar has affected audiences so intensely that in some it has brought on a new level of film inspired depression because the colorful wonderland depicted in Avatar does not actually exist.

Landsberg suggests that the technologies of mass media not only change the concept of an authentic experience to the individual audience member (48), but also the vividness of the film and the created alternate realities achieved through technology creates a “suspension of disbelief and identification with the protagonist” which might affect [audiences] so significantly that the images would actually become part of their own archive of experience” (30). Essentially, Landsberg is saying that audiences adopt memories and experiences because of the alternate realities they see on the screen, then convert them into their own authentic memories.

The notion of the Prosthetic Memory brings on a slew of unsettling thoughts. Prosthetic Memories make us ask ourselves questions such as “What is real?”, “Which of my memories are real?”. This concept of Prosthetic Memory gives humans a reason to re-evaluate the development of their own personalities. Memories shape the person that we become with age. Memories based off visual media can stem from viewing all types of media. This includes films, Vlogs, YouTube clips, and Vimeos we’ve seen and the visual concepts that have affected us. Is this why some have become so obsessed with Hollywood love? Is this why so many young men and women turn into such hopeless romantics in the pursuit of happiness? Those who were raised on Breakfast at Tiffany’s generally swoon at films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and (500) Days of Summer and whisper to themselves “why not me?”. Have these prosthetic memories left audiences with an idea of what love is supposed to be versus what it actually is?

More so, consider horror and scary movie genres. The reason that so many of our twenty-something peers still sleep with their bedroom doors locked may be because of a cultured notion  they were raised on. We have been cultured to believe through the Scream series that someone is going to burst into our rooms in the middle of the night and murder us! Thanks a lot Prosthetic Memory & Nev Campbell, thanks a-freaking-lot.

Prosthetic Memories are able to shape personality, morals, and character even though they’re not real. Visual memories we obtain through film and popular culture in our youth are repressed and stay with us throughout our adult development, forming our passions, fears, and aspirations. Audiences identify with the characters they see on the silver screen and envision themselves as the hero or heroine; they take on their hardships as if they were their own. Here are the hard facts:

1: Chances are the guy from Scream is not gonna pop into your room tonight and bust out a can of whoop-ass.
2: There is no way Jim Carrey is that sweet in real life. You can be hopeful that Joel Barish is out there somewhere, but don’t hold your breath for some guy who will go through reverse memory erasing for your love.
3: No, Jack from Titanic didn’t make it, but whether you want to believe it or not, he was never your real-life lover and you really have no reason to keep crying about it 13 years later. We know through Prosthetic Memory that you really felt it with the words “I’ll never let go”, but really, it’s time.

SOURCES:

Cinephile: The University of British Columbia’s Film Journal

Psychology Today

Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture
by Alison Landsberg, 1993, pg29-50

Emotional Intelligence: How Developing Your EI can Help You In and Out of the Bedroom

by Lizzy Sebuck

Getting in touch with your feelings won’t just give you an edge in the workplace, but improving your emotional intelligence can help your relationships and your more intimate moments too! Is your girlfriend saying you just don’t understand the way she feels? You jerk! Guys, you don’t need to sit down with a season of Sex in the City to get in touch with your feelings. Ladies, step away from the Braveheart DVD, there’s another way! Today at Occam’s Taser we’re here to educate men and women alike on how to express your feelings and emotions to your partner. This will allow for a stronger chance that your significant other will actually pay more attention to what you’re saying and less to distractions. Men have trouble interpreting the subliminal messages that women send through gestures and facial expressions, while women struggle to extract and understand emotions from their man. Strengthening your emotional intelligence can benefit your intimate relationships through increasing empathy and understanding, and can potentially lead you to find more compatible mates in the future.

“HE DOESN’T GET HOW I FEEL!”

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, right? Wrong. We’re not actually from different planets (although at times it may seem that way). Researchers cite that men and women have different cognitive processes of the brain that cause them to interpret and demonstrate emotions differently. Generally, women have a stronger emotional intelligence quotient than men because women are seemingly more in touch with their feelings. Emotional Intelligence, or lack thereof, can lead to lack of communication in the relationship. Emotions tend to remain uncovered and sometimes never discussed. So why do guys have a harder time getting in touch with their emotions? Some research says that its biological.

“Men are hard-wired differently,” says David Powell, PhD, president of the International Center for Health Concerns, who explains that the connection between the left brain, home of logic, and the right, the seat of emotions, is much greater in women”… “Women have the equivalent of an interstate highway, so they move readily between the right and left brains. For men the connection is like a meandering country lane, so we don’t have such ready access to feelings.”

The first step is admitting you have a problem, fellas. As soon as you accept and acknowledge the possibility that your girl might be right about your stone cold silence, you can learn to open up and express just how pissed you are that she ate that last slice of pizza.

“ALL SHE EVER DOES IS NAG!”


Sorry girls, just because you might have a higher level of EI don’t think you’re off the hook. Women generally broadcast their emotions whenever they feel like expressing them. While women do have a stronger, higher emotional intelligence than men, they don’t always express this emotional intellect in the most productive way.

Women don’t need a study or a blog to tell them that talking about their problems will make them feel better. No shit. However, in communicating and expressing your emotional intelligence with your man, its a two-way road. You may want to talk about your feelings til the sun comes up (aw), but you can’t force your guy to feel the same way. A part of the reason men and women have a hard time understanding one another is not only because of differing emotional intelligence quotient levels, but also because they communicate very differently.
When men decide to express their emotions they get to the point. Men are very literal in their speech and make sure to quickly state the issue. Women tend to be less point-blank, as they generally sensationalize conflict in relationships, while in the process losing their audience in conveying emotion. This can lead to a woman’s voice turning into the droning Charlie Brown teacher your male counterpart may otherwise hear when you speak. Try to take the opportunity to let your significant other talk, in the event that he does have something he wants to share. Listening is key in a mutually exclusive relationship. Even women have room for improvement when it comes to assessing emotions, but the first step is allowing those emotions from others to be expressed in the first place, so try to listen and allow for both parties to express their feelings.


There’s more than a few positive aspects to having highly developed emotional intelligence. Yes, your relationship will be stronger because of more communication and understanding. Yes, you may finally learn WHY your boyfriend shed a few tears during Field of Dreams. But the greatest benefit of them all is that studies actually show that having a higher emotional intelligence can lead to a better time in the bedroom. In a research study on emotional intelligence and sex, the results found a positive relationship between the female orgasm and high emotional intelligence.

“We found emotional intelligence to be positively correlated with both frequency of orgasm during intercourse … and masturbation …. Women in the lowest quartile of emotional intelligence had an approximate twofold increased risk of infrequent orgasm.”

Hallelujah. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Hallelujah. Note the negative side of this study though: “Low emotional intelligence seems to be a significant risk factor for low orgasmic frequency.” You know what that means? The research shows that having a low emotional intelligence may be the cause of fewer orgasms amongst women. Haven’t exactly experienced fireworks in the bedroom lately, ladies? It’s not just the guys here who have room for emotional intelligence improvement! The better emotionally connected you are to your partner, the more likely you will enjoy each other better in that intimate way.


Now, I’m no “Dr. Love” but I can tell you that communication is key for success in relationships. Developing your Emotional Intelligence Quotient can be accomplished in a few simple steps, and through this, better communication can be achieved. By improving your EQ, you will be better able to identify, assess, and control emotions and, from there, your relationships can significantly improve! First, learn what your Emotional Intelligence is by taking a simple test. From there, you can see the areas which you need improvement. Take note from your childhood crossing guard when it comes to love: Stop (and think about it), Look (and analyze your relationship), and LISTEN (to your partner). Your relationship will grow stronger, and hey, you may be able to test if the sex study is accurate. If you don’t want to listen to me, take a page from MensHealth:

“The moral of the story: when she talks, you listen (listen does not mean hearing her in the background. It means you are actually listening to what she has to say). This way she won’t have to keep repeating herself. But make sure that when you talk, she is also listening to you. Get it on!”

SOURCES
Big Boys Don’t Cry — and Other Myths About Men and Their Emotions:The truth about men, their emotions, and ways men can become more emotionally expressive.
Readers Digest: Dianne Hales
Love on the Line
Truity Williams
Emotional Intelligence and Its Association with Orgasmic Frequency in Women Journal of Sexual Medicine DOI: Burri, A., Cherkas, L., & Spector, T. (2009).
Women Who Talk Too Much