Life After Death Question #16: Does Age Make the Mind Less Flexible?

by Damien Echols

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Life After Death Question #16: Does Age Make the Mind Less Flexible?

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:41 pm

Once I was looking through a magazine and I came across a piece about an art show opening in New York . The artist was a female photographer who had been badly burned as a child. She had taken photographs of herself as she slowly went through the healing process. She had to have an ungodly number of surgeries to help her along, and they continued well into adulthood. Throughout the years she kept her trusty camera in hand, documenting every step. Above the tiny article there was a photograph of her laughing, and at first glance I didn't even notice the light ripples of scar tissue on her chest and collarbones. Only after reading it did I backtrack and realize there was indeed still evidence of her childhood trauma.

The thing that really struck me about this article was a comment the woman made. What she said was that she was much stronger as a child that she is as an adult. She had to have an understanding and appreciation for the subtle mechanisms of the mind to have come to this realization. Perhaps sometimes the memory is worse than the pain at the time of its happening. And sometimes it's not.

The older I grow, the more I understand what the burned woman meant. Things I was able to walk through unscathed in my youth would mark me for life or damage me beyond repair now. Things I once shrugged off without thought would now bring about my collapse. I was much more flexible in both mind and body as a young. I could absorb the impact and roll with the punches.


Does age make the mind less flexible? I also wonder if trauma in general, as in years of trauma-filled living in prison, could reduce a person's ability to respond to difficulty. If things seem so much harder to you now, do you think it's possible to reverse this? Is there an element of attitude within flexibility? In other words, are we more flexible when we are more hopeful?
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Life After Death Question #16: Does Age Make the Mind Less Flexible?

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:44 am

Put me in a room with a couple of active noisy pre-school children and I don't last more than a couple of hours these days! When I had four pre-schoolers of my own all day every day and I was much younger, it didn't bother me at all. :lol: I used to do (or used to be able to do) a lot of things when I was younger that I don't even want to attempt now. And maybe that is part of the natural cycle, with age our goals and desires change.

I think it is true that experience changes our perceptions and how we think about things. The younger we are, the more likely we are to plunge headlong into things unaware of - or unconcerned about - consequences, while as we grow older we can remember "Man! That really hurt! I don't want to do that again!" Of course, there is really no way to know if you could endure something a second or third time unless you are placed in the situation.

A couple of young women in my circle of loved ones (well, at least younger than I am) are going through difficult periods in their lives right now, going through painful situations that I faced when I was younger, and it almost hurts too much to listen to them because I not only don't want to go back and experience that stuff now, I don't even want to think about it. But what would I do if I had to do it all again? It's hard to tell. I might be stronger than I realize.

I think more than inflexible, the aging mind is experienced.

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Re: Life After Death Question #16: Does Age Make the Mind Less Flexible?

Unread postby Buster » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:03 pm

Kids have to be flexible, because they know they're not in charge. Flexible adults are the ones who realise that they aren't always in charge, either.

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Re: Life After Death Question #16: Does Age Make the Mind Less Flexible?

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:00 pm

I agree with nebraska: the aging mind is an experienced mind, and the sting of experience is a thing that stays with a person.

That said I also believe that attitude makes a tremendous difference. While experience shuts our doors slightly, makes us hesitate more. I think it's possible to work harder at opening ourselves, and becoming more aware of how we react to things.

Prison is a soul crushing experience and even the sanest, most emotionally healthy individual is going to emerge shell-shocked and far less resilient. My hope is that time, friends, love and passion will reverse some of the damage inflected on Damien. Maybe he's stronger already.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Life After Death Question #16: Does Age Make the Mind Less Flexible?

Unread postby Liz » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:22 am

Yeah, I agree with nebraska that it is about experience. And it all depends on your experience. But it also depends on where you are at the time.

For me it’s been an ebb and flow type thing throughout my life. I’ve had highs and lows. And with the highs come flexibility and hope and with the lows come inflexibility and fear.

I know there was a time when I was at the highest point of my life. It was all good, and I felt that I could handle anything. But in the low moments, everything is tainted and there is no hope. Just fear and despair. And there were the ones in between that were mostly flexible, depending on the situation.

So, in answer to Firefly’s question, we are more flexible when we are hopeful.

And I'm sure Damien's experience tainted him. I'm sure it taught him not to trust. If it were me I'd still be pinching myself at this point to see if it was really true......that I was really out of prison.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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