Does emotion impact human memory? Apparently it does. Researchers have uncovered new evidence in mice that may explain how emotionally charged situations can leave such a powerful mark on our human memories. Surges of the stress hormone nor-epinephrine (also known as non-adrenaline) often accompany strong emotions and then spark a series of events that strengthen the connections between neurons, based on reports in the October 5 issue of the journal Cell.
Put simply we can all remember where we were, and what we were doing and feeling, on 9/11. And my generation remembers the assassination of President Kennedy in much the same way. Most of you do not recall what you were doing on 9/10/01 at all. And I have no profound memory of the November day before JFK was shot in 1963 but I will remember the famous date forever. Why?
One reason for this kind of emotional memory is that the brain transfer the emotions of significant experiences into our long term memory. Indeed, studies have also shown that heightened states of emotion can facilitate both learning and memory. When this process results in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a condition characterized by persistent and vivid memories of trauma will occur.
Simply put, during stress arousal a stress hormone is released by your neurons and the brain forms an "emotional memory."
Why do I relate this information? Because so many Christians act as if becoming a Christian will wipe away all such memories in a moment. Since, they argue, "all things become new" when you are in Christ they also argue some pretty silly, and sometime dangerous, stuff about people who have suffered from emotional stress. God may be pleased to take a painful memory away, or he may not. It seems, in most cases, that he does not remove them but rather helps people learn to cope with them as they grow. One thing is for sure, we have no promise in Scripture to this effect and arguing as if we did only brings about real misery for some very wonderful Christians who are forced to further suffer by the words and actions of ill-advised Christian counselors and friends.