In Rain of Days by Ray Nayler, the story describes memory therapy sessions in a future with doctors providing care through avatars. In an opening scene the doctor explains the basis of the simulation which made me stop and rewind:

It’s not some static thing, just sitting there in the mind. Memories are changed every time they are accessed. Memories are in dialogue with lived experience. If you were remembering a real moment from your childhood, you would experience the same thing—memories are viewed from a present point in time, and they are invested with new knowledge.

So the simulation is not a script the way a tape recorder or video file will simply replay a sequence the same way, even after repeat visits. Also, the purpose of these sessions is to recall lost memories in the narrator. Which reminded me of the way Dr. Lecter manipulated Will Graham in a completely different but more contemporary world.

With the help of Alana Bloom, Will tries to recover his lost memories through hypnosis.

AND searching, it turns out this is demonstrated and confirmed according to Scientific American (Mendehlson et al) in posthypnotic amnesia studies. This made me jump to the conclusion that memory therapy as depicted in the future must be this type of hypnosis in today's timeline, we just haven't evolved tooling and treatment yet to accept it the way a future medical community might. I considered this the case, but is it too restrictive for the story to be so specific to equate it to hypnosis? is it a better decision to generalize it as a more future proof and broader phrase of memory therapy?

  • 1
    There is currently a lot of skepticism about the nature of hypnosis and about the status of "recovered" memories (see e.g. Wikipedia as a starting point; this 2006 overview is interesting too; but don't take one SA article as the entire truth). So it's possible the novel describes a version of this that actually works, or maybe the author takes a position on the debate over recovered memory, or maybe just thinks it's an interesting idea to play with.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 12 at 13:42
  • Very interesting. How they have data for implanting memories in the more susceptible, and a real juicy category "Illustrating false memories is simple. From biologically impossible events to alien abductions". Makes sense that the story avoids any mention of hypnosis.
    – 杜興怡
    Apr 13 at 5:39


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