Monday, November 8, 2010


 I’ve just read a book that combines two genres: science fiction and historical fiction.  In Galileo’s Dream, Galileo  is teletransported in time and space—the time is 3020- the space: the 4 moons of Jupiter, known as the Galilean moons. 

Much of the science, fictional or not, is beyond me.  But the psychology is not   If I understand correctly the purpose of these periodic teletransportations is to manipulate the outcome of Galileo’s life.  In real life G. was tried and found guilty of heresy by the Catholic Church for, among other things,  arguing for the correctness of the Copernican view of the universe,  that the earth rotated around the sun, and not as the Biblical view had it, that the earth was the center of the universe. 

The bad guys on Jupiter want G. to be burned at the stake.  They think this would mark the end of religion and clear the way for the ascendancy of science.  But not everyone agrees.  The good guys attempt to teach G. about his life so that he can maybe even avoid the heresy charges altogether.

What caught my eye was the third millennial version of a psychotherapist or even psychoanalyst,  a mnemosyne.   In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne is the Goddess of memory and the mother of the Muses.  With the help of a helmet-like device the Mnemosyne accesses nodal points in the brain where intense emotional memories are filed.  The  subject “remembers” in the deepest way.

If the,  poorly remembered past could be vividly recalled,  the theory goes,  a person will be changed and their future will be changed, not just their current “symptoms” but their future.  In the context of the book  G. held a better chance of surviving what was in store for him at the hands of the Catholic church, if  he knew himself better.  What gets changed is not the past, but one’s experience of the past and thus the future..

One of many things that caught my attention was that the technology described in this imagined Jovian future already exists.  Its called EMDR (eye movement, desensitization, reprocessing).    The modern mnemosyne (read psychotherapist) uses the protocols of EMDR to access connections between the presenting problems and the past.

In EMDR one stimulates alternately the two hemisphere of the brain by way of sound,  eye movement, tapping, or some such.  Very little special equipment is necessary, maybe ear phones for sound, or a light bar with which the subject follows lights without head movement.  This process seems to faciliatate both relaxation and a kind of free association,  so one starts with a target image and quickly begins to link to other images, that are cognitively if unconsciously connected to the original target image and symptom.  Typically what comes up in a session is an early memory that has set the individual up for the difficulties they are now experiencing.  These image and the memories that arise are “re-processed” and the anxiety, the symptoms diminish.  They really do.

The EMDR protocol  is typically part of an overall treatment process, and my description here is barely adequate.  For more information see 

My point here, is that with the aid of this technology we can help an individual revive the relevant memories from the past that can change the present:  ameliorate symptoms and perhaps even change the future. 

The Mnemosymes of Jupiter have nothing on us.


  1. I saw a demonstration of this at a Holistic Nursing weekend program. It was used post "911", among other traumas of course- with positive effect.

  2. actually i should have mentioned this.
    it was used extensively after 911 to treat individuals directly effected by the events of that horrible day, individuals with post traumatic stress disorder and was very useful for many.