3/16/2010

Explaining The Anti-Vaxxers and the Distorting Certainties of Memory: Why They Know What They Know

"False memories allow us to forgive ourselves and justify our mistakes, but sometimes at a high price: an inability to  take responsibility for our lives. An appreciation of the distortions of memory, a realization that even deeply felt memories might be wrong, might encourage people to hold their memories more lightly, to drop the certainty that their memories are always accurate, and to let go of the appealing impulse to use the past to justify the problems of the present. If we are to be careful for what we wish for because it might come true, we must also be careful which memories we select to justify our lives, because then we will have to live by them." (p 93, Tavris and Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)


I spent more of the day over at Orac's than I needed to, in a weird exchange with bensmyson, to no good purpose, at least not for their sakes (since it appears the parents trade off willy-nilly in conversations--boundary issue). Maybe the time the other posters and I took to work to point out the contradictions in the stories, the likelihood that memories had been altered, will be of some service to readers.

It's not the first instance of altering stories that I've seen (nor many of you with longevity in the online community have undoubtedly dealt with), and it's not the first I've addressed. I don't think they're lying, for the most part, at least not intentionally, these parents who are so convinced they know now with absolute conviction of what happened to their children.

But maybe some of these parents who do wander over to read me occasionally will at some point get a tiny sliver of curiosity and actually look at the research on false memories. Or at the very least pick up Tavris and Aronson's easy read on the whole thing. Of course, if they were the least bit open to uncertainty, they wouldn't be where they are now, would they?

It, of course, isn't just vaccines and autism that people can fool themselves about. We don't like the brain hurt of cognitive dissonance and will alter our recollection to better fit who we want to be. Humility and a willingness to eat crow seem to me to be tremendous assets to keep yourself from looking like a total ass. Maybe that's age talking; I forget more now, and I'm always surprised at the things my husband remembers and I don't or vice versa. I don't assume I'm right and he's wrong. I find it interesting, we laugh and chat about it and we move on, both of us knowing the fragility of memory and the incredibly flexibility of the brain.

So, don't ask me when my kids did certain things; I'll tell you generalities, but I won't claim to know an absolute unless I wrote in the baby book at the time, and I only managed that for the first one. The middle child has one somewhere, but I'd bet there wasn't much written in there, and I forgot to buy the baby (who will be 7 this year) one entirely. Sigh. Best to look at the evaluations done on them, and if they are ever re-assessed, the folks will just have to look there for what I answered then. I know too much about the manufacturing of memories to ever lose any sleep over trying to remember something from the past. I'm a keen inventor of stories, and I'd much rather spin it all the way to fiction than make it my past. :-)

That's the only problem with blogs; it's way too easy to go back and rewrite it after the fact, twist it and bend it to fit. Thankfully, that's what the stalkers who screen capture are for: they'll keep you honest. Hah. Or not. Some folks rewrite  blithely and pretend the cached copies don't exist. Must be nice.

1 comment:

Roger Kulp said...

I've been waay too sick,and preoccupied too follw these blogs of late,but let me say this.

In all seriousness,what makes the antivaxers what they are,is not so much false memories,but outright ignorance,an unwillingness,or inability to follow things to their rightful conclusions.That and the fact they are all too willing to follow self-appointed "leaders" like McCarthy, and Wakefield,who only have part of the picture.They are the blind men who say an elephant is a snake.

I think you all know,I have a syndrome or complex very much like the ones many of these supposedly "vaccine damaged" kids have.However,unlike them,I have also been diagnosed not only with multiple errors of folate metabolism,but with severe megaloblastic/pernicious anemia. My new hematologist agrees,I may well have a syndrome involving abnormal homocysteines,but not classic homocystinuria.I need more tests.I have the eye problems and body type to match.

Abnormal homocysteines can cause high urinary porphyrins,which I have,and psychiatric symptoms, that can sometimes mimic autism. Not to mention causing developmental delay.

Megaloblastic or pernicious anemial causes ileitis,and often has celiac,and bovine beta casein enteropathy as well.

(There's your GF/CF link.)

So my theory is,that many of these "vaccine damaged" kids have the same problems I do.

In short,it's metabolism not mercury,and homocysteines,not vaccines.But genetic syndromes aren't as fun as anti-pharma conspiracies.

It is ironic I had to go to a DAN! to get these tests done,but after I spent months online researching this stuff,and piecing together this picture of my "autism",and presenting it to him,my DAN! dumped me as a patient. Coincidence?

It is my hope to find a couple of doctors willing to go public with me about homocysteines,anemia,and folate metabolism as the cause of what is loosely labelled "vaccine induced" "autism".Sometimes patients know more than science does.