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Copyright 1915 by H. W. PERCIVAL


What causes loss of memory?

Loss of memory is the result of a physical or of a psychic or of a mental cause. The immediate physical cause of the loss of memory is a disorder in the nerve centers in the brain, preventing the senses from functioning through their respective nerves. To illustrate: If there are certain defects of the optic nerve and visual center and optic thalami, so as to cause these to be thrown out of touch with the distinct “sense of sight” or the being which is sight, then this being cannot grasp nor use its physical channels so as to reproduce for the mind the physical object which had been impressed upon the sense. If the ramifications of the auditory nerve and nerve-center have been affected, then the “sound sense” is unable to operate these, and therefore cannot reproduce to the mind the physical sound or name of the object or scene which the sight sense had failed to reproduce, and so there would be loss of sight memory, and sound memory due to physical causes. This will illustrate the loss of taste memory and smell memory, due to physical causes. A pressure on the nerve-centers, a blow on the head, a sudden concussion due to a fall, impaired circulation, nervous shocks from unexpected happenings, may be immediate causes of physical loss of memory.

If the physical obstacle or defect of the nerves in their centers has been removed or repaired, there was only temporary loss of physical memory. If removal or repair is impossible, then the loss is permanent.

Memory is kept not by any part of the physical organism, nor by the physical organism as a whole. The seven orders of memory: sight-memory, sound-memory, taste-memory, smell-memory, touch or feeling-memory, moral-memory, “I” or identity-memory—mentioned in “Moments with Friends,” in the November, 1915, issue—make up sense-memory as a whole and which is here named personality-memory. Each one of the sense-memories and all the seven memories co-ordinated and working together make up the personality-memory. Personality memory has two sides or aspects: the physical side and the psychic side. The physical side of personality-memory has to do with the physical body and the physical world, but the sensing and the memory of these are in the psychic senses and not in the physical body nor in the organs of sense. Personality-memory begins when the human elemental, the human being, manages to adjust and co-ordinate two or more of its senses with their respective sense-organs of its physical body and to focus these on to some physical object. Of course, the “I” sense must be one of the senses coordinated and focussed with one or more senses focussed and functioning through their particular organs of sense. The first memory that one has of his existence in the physical world is when his “I” sense of his personality awoke and was co-ordinated with one or more of his other senses, while they were focussed on some physical object or happening. The infant or child can see objects and hear noises before the “I” sense awakes and becomes co-ordinated with seeing and hearing. During that time it is merely animal. Not until the infant is able to think or feel or say “I” in connection with the seeing or hearing or other sensing, does human existence or personality-memory begin. The physical side of personality-memory ends with the death of the physical body, at which time the human elemental with its senses withdraws from its shell, the physical body, and is cut off from the organs and nerve-centers.

The psychic side of personality-memory should begin coincident with or prior to the beginning of personality-memory. Then the “I” sense would be awake and would connect itself as a form with one or more of the psychic senses, such as clairvoyance or clairaudience, and these would be linked with and so related to the physical organs of sense that the psychic world and the physical world would be adjusted and related to the physical body and its organs. But this adjustment of the psychic with the physical side of personality-memory is not made, and the psychic senses are not usually opened up naturally in man. The psychic sense-memories are usually so closely linked with the physical organs and physical objects of sense that man usually is not able to distinguish or have memory of existence apart from his physical body.

If the psychic side of personality-memory is turned toward physical things, the psychic personality will end soon after the death of the physical body, and the life and doings of the personality will be ended and blotted out. Such event will be like a blank or blot or scar made on the mind connected with that personality. When the senses are turned toward ideal subjects of thought, such as the betterment of mankind, the education and improvement of the senses by occupying them with ideal subjects in poetry, or music, or painting, or sculpture, or an ideal pursuit of the professions, then the senses impress themselves accordingly on the mind, and the mind carries over, beyond death, memory of those ideal sensuous perceptions which were impressed upon it. The personality is broken up after death, and the particular memories of the personality connected with physical objects and things in that life is destroyed by the breaking up of the senses which made that personality. Where, however, the psychic senses of that personality were concerned with ideal subjects connected with the mind, there the mind carries with it the impressions. When the mind has built for it the new personality made up of its new senses, the memories of the past personality carried by the mind as impressions will, in turn, impress the senses and aid their development along the particular subjects with which they had in the past been concerned.

Loss of memory of the past life and prior lives is caused by the loss of the last and prior personalities. As mankind has no other memory than the seven orders of personality-memory, a man cannot know or remember himself apart from the senses of his personality, nor apart from objects connected with that personality. He loses memory of a past life because the senses of one personality are disarranged and broken up by death, and there is nothing left to reproduce as sense-memories in the next life, the things with which that personality was concerned.

The partial or total loss of memory of things connected with this life is due to the impairment or permanent loss of the instrument through which that memory works, or to the injury or loss of the elemental beings which produce memory. The loss of sight or hearing may be due to a physical cause, such as an injury inflicted on the eye or ear. But if the being which is called sight or the being which is called sound remains uninjured, and the injury to the organ is repaired, then sight and hearing will be restored. But if these beings were themselves injured, then there would be not only loss of sight or hearing, in proportion to the injury, but these beings would be unable to reproduce as memories the sights and sounds with which they had been familiar.

The loss of memory, when not due to physical causes, is produced by the abuse of the senses or by lack of control and education of the senses, or by wearing out of the sense elementals, resulting in old age, or by the mind’s being concerned with subjects of thought without regard to present conditions.

The over indulgence of the sex function inflicts injury on the being called sight; and the degree of the injury sustained determines the degree of partial loss or the total loss of sight-memory. Disregard of the uses of words and the relation of sounds prevents the growth and development of the being known as sound-sense and makes it unable to reproduce as sound-memories the vibrations it had received. The abuse of the palate or the neglect to cultivate the palate, dulls the being called taste and makes it unable to differentiate between tastes and to reproduce taste-memory. The palate is abused by alcohol and other harsh stimulants, and by excessive feeding without attention to the particular niceties of taste in food. Loss of sense-memory may result from irregularities in the actions of the sight and sound and taste senses, by glutting the stomach and intestines with more than they can digest, or by putting into them what they cannot digest. What is called smell is in the personality an elemental being, a magnetically polarized being of sex. Irregularities of action, detrimental to the other senses, can depolarize and throw out of focus the smell-sense, or demagnetize it and make it unable to register or reproduce the emanations characteristic of an object; and, indigestion or improper feeding can stagnate or disorganize and cause the loss of smell memory.

Such are the causes of the loss of the particular sense-memories. There are defects of memory which are not actually loss of memory, though they are often so called. A person goes to purchase certain articles, but on his arrival at the store he cannot remember what he went to buy. Another person cannot remember parts of a message, or what he was going to do, or what he is searching for, or where he puts things. Another forgets the names of persons, places, or things. Some forget the number on the houses or the streets on which they live. Some are unable to remember what they said or did yesterday or the week before, though they may be able to describe with accuracy happenings in their early childhood. Often such defects of memory are signs of the dulling or wearing away of the senses by advancing age; but even such advance of old age is due to the lack of control of the senses by control of the mind, and by not having trained the senses to be true ministers to the mind. “Bad memory,” “forgetfulness,” “absent-mindedness,” are results of one’s failure to so control the mind that the mind may control the senses. Other causes of defects of memory are business, pleasure, and trifles, which engage the mind and are allowed to crowd out or efface what it had intended to do. Again, when the mind is engaged with subjects of thought not related to present conditions or to the senses, the senses wander toward their natural objects, while the mind is engaged with itself. Then follows absent-mindedness, forgetfulness.

Failure to remember is due chiefly to not giving the necessary attention to what it is desired to be remembered, and to not making the order clear, and to not charging with sufficient force the order which should be remembered.


What causes one to forget his own name or where he lives, though his memory may not be impaired in other respects?

The not remembering of one’s name and where one lives, is due to the throwing the “I” sense and the sight and sound senses out of touch or out of focus. When the “I” sense is switched off or cut off from the other senses in personality-memory, and the other senses are properly related, the personality will act without having identity—that is, providing it is not obsessed or taken possession of by some other entity. The one having such an experience might recognize places and converse about ordinary things which did not need identification in relation to himself. But he would feel empty, vacant, lost, as though he were searching for something which he had known and forgotten. In this connection one would not have the usual sense of responsibility. He would act, but not from the sense of duty. He would eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, and sleep when fatigued, somewhat as animals do, when prompted by natural instinct. This condition might be caused by an obstruction of the brain, in one of the ventricles, or an interference with the pituitary body. If so, the sense of “I” would be restored when the obstacle was removed. Then the “I” sense would come again into touch and focus with the other senses, and that person would at once remember his name, and recognize his whereabouts and his home.

A Friend [H. W. Percival]