Memoirs Of a Murderer: Memory And Forgetting With Alzheimer's Disease

Categories: Murder

Memory is an essential part of everyone’s daily trivial activities in life. As you wake up, you remember and learn to get up to do the daily routine, such as brush your teeth, shower, get dressed, make on-the-go breakfast, and then commute to work or lecture. Everything you encounter, whether it is experience or something you were taught to learn, has been encoded into the long-term memory storage at the back of your brain. Perhaps, your brain has a unique way of storing most of the information that was received from the external world, but only the ones with worthwhile meaning will be kept long-lasting in the long-term memory, while the rest decays.

However, some people may completely not be capable of remembering. For instance, Alzheimer's disease patients.

When people think of patients who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, they tend to think that they are not capable of finding their way home, can’t recognize their loved ones, and, towards the severity stage, they cannot even take care of the most pivotal basic needs in their life; thus, making them live the hardest ways you can ever think of for, sadly, a lifetime.

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The synopsis of the movie Memoirs of a Murderer that was recently released on September 6th, 2017 commences with one snowy day as the protagonist named Byung-su, who is severely diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The movie then transitionally fades and steps back in the old days of his Alzheimer's emerging signs. Byung-su, known to be a former serial killer, blanks out on his day-to-day past memories but could remember the episodic buffer of his killing episodes.

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Being that said, this is where he speaks his mind out at some several points of the movie whenever he is cued by some specific surroundings. For example, when he sees a particular white shoe that indicates one of his first tragic memories during his childhood, or when his daughter mentions about some random crime scene news off the television. Another significant character, his daughter Eun-hee, who has always been by Byung-su’s side virtually at all times, taking care of his daily life need.

Although, she is soon to find out the reveal of his father’s dark side towards the end of the movie. Hence, the significant message in this movie is that the main protagonist selectively remembers the habit of killing through his hands while the rest of his memories utterly faded. The movie Memoirs of Murder is shown with numerous aspects that are correlated to the topic Memory and Forgetting as indicated in the Essentials of Understanding Psychology textbook (Robert, 2015). First, Byung-su who is the main protagonist suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is one of dementia types that causes a relatively severe problem with memory, thinking and behavior. Based on this movie, there are some significant signs that show how Alzheimer’s disease has progressively flipped Byung-su’s life around. Not only Alzheimer’s disease within the Memory and Forgetting topic are obviously shown throughout the movie, some other sub-concepts and theories are clearly connected to Alzheimer’s, such as false memory, retrieving memory, procedural memory, declarative memory, episodic buffer, spontaneous memory, PTSD, anterograde, short-term memory, and positive punishment. To measure how close or far the movie has given towards accepted psychological theories and concepts, Memoirs of the Murderer depicts relatively accurate psychological theories and concepts that are acceptable to the experts and to relevant research. The movie did a brilliant job on intricately extracting the Alzheimer's disease symptoms and implementing into good use throughout the movie. To start with, Byung-su, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, is explicitly shown with eye muscle twitching.

According to the discoveries of several research studies of Cleveland and Clinic, eye twitching is one symptom in the early stage that is caused by muscle twitching and spasm; thus, it is close to the psychological concepts (Cleveland and Clinic, 2014). Not only extracting significant Alzheimer’s symptoms, there is a psychological concept of selective memory. it is ironic to say that he seems to only be able store the killing episodes he created in the past while discarding all the daily chore memories. That being said, as the film goes through to the point when her daughter mentions his father about some crime scene on the television, that cue instantly activates Byung-su’s spontaneous memory. The stimulus here is the crime news reinforces his past events to pop up in his head out in the blues. Consequently, the reason behind this is the apparent meaning of the particular traumatic experience Byung-su has gone through. The movie also draws back to many of his painful events that linger him up until his present. To exemplify, as quoted by his expressive thoughts, “His slap was still first-rate” implies that he could still remember vividly about the raw feelings from being smacked by his own father; thus, eliciting a haunting long-lasting memory. The haunting long-lasting memory of his indicates that he has triggered the spontaneous memory from his traumatic experience. Dozens of research have shown that, according to Cognitive Neuroscience Society, emotional memories that are stored in the amygdala region have a higher tendency to surface than to non-meaningful memories (Cognitive Neuroscience Society).

Accordingly, this can merely associate with the PTSD, post-traumatic disorder, since there is a notable sign of rush anxious feeling when Byung-su hears about the murder crime on the news by his daughter. The movie Memoirs of the Murderer successfully exhibits numerous factors that align with palpable signs of Alzheimer’s disease and memory; thus, the movie is close to the theories. To explore the mistakes of what the movie has made, one of the mistakes is the eye muscle twitching. When Byung-su is going to forget the current situation, one of his initial signs that signify the audience that the Alzheimer's symptoms is about to emerge is his eye twitching. In fact, we never know when people who suffer from Alzheimer’s is going to forget something; thus, this is considered to be an apparent mistake in the movie. Moreover, it happens inside the brain, which we cannot see it. That means that there is no sign like this in real life that shows when an Alzheimer's patient is forgetting. Although, the eye twitching symptom is the director’s technique in the movie to show that Byung-su is going to lose his current memory, which helps the audiences to understand it easily. The significant point that the director wants to send throughout the movie to the audiences is the importance of the memory. Once the certain memory is lost, she or he could be easily tricked with a given false memory. As illustrated in the movie, Byung-su always has false memory because he always lose his memory, and it also has discredited him among his acquaintances.

When he talks to someone, tomorrow he cannot remember what he said yesterday, so it is hard for anyone to trust him ever again. It is sort of self-explanatory to say that the main burden of the protagonist in this movie is Alzheimer’s. Byung-su has a very hard time to handle with this disease, the audiences will know how bad it can be when your certain memory is lost. Despite that the movie has some minor mistakes, the movie shows some ways to cope with Alzheimer’s. Byung-su has a particular recorder that is given by his daughter. He knows that he is inevitably going to lose his memory anyway, which is why he is always recording his voice when he wants to keep that memory. This is, in someway, can be associated with the cognitive region of the procedural memory as well as habituation. Additionally, the movie shows us why Alzheimer’s disease is serious as if someone is suffering with this severe disease, he or she is prone to be tricked with delusional paranoia that goes through in his or her mind, and not the actual reality. Perhaps, this could lead to a false memory of hallucination as the subject keeps forgetting things over time and cannot retrieve some certain memory once the subject loses it. In order to analyze the artist’s perspective, there are certain psychological theories that are applied by the author within the different arranged stages. In the beginning of this movie, Byung-su is shown to be at a police station, at the duration 3:39 minute into the movie, when he forgets where he was as well as his name that shows evident signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The reason behind this symptom rewinds the story back to the following consequences of his car accident that happened 17 years ago.

Therefore, this implies a mere concept of anterograde amnesia because he has no ability to recall any memory after the injury but only his habit killing memories are intact; hence, it is considered as the concept of habitualization. When he goes back home, he tries to kill his non biological daughter since he is able to remember his daughter but ultimately loses the attempt of killing her. The movie also focuses on the sensory and short-term memory when the movie takes the audience back 3 months back when Byung-su finds out he is diagnosed with dementia. The doctor says that recent memories will flicker like traffic lights, and all memories will fade in time. Moreover, in the middle of the movie, when Byoung-su was a teenager, his mother, sister and he was being kicked, hit, and punched repeatedly. After he killed his father and discovered peacefulness in his house, he observed the violence from his dad into killing others but for a desperate purpose, which can be classified as a behavioral perspective. Despite that he might be forgetful, but his hands remember explicitly how to murder people, which is related to procedural memory. Comparatively, declarative memory happens when Tae-ju had a car accident with Byung-su and can recognize him well by his face. When Byung-su does not want his daughter to stay near Tae-ju, another serial killer, he is grounded and locked herself in the room in which this is referring to positive punishment. The H. M. case in psychology class is also represented in one scene that his daughter tells him to keep recording what he ate with the intention of not to eat again. H. M. also couldn’t remember when he had a meal.

Lastly, the artist used eye twitching as a sign of how Byung-su is about to forget things in order to make the audience know that he is about to forget. Accordingly, looking at the audience’s perspective, this can be referred to classical conditioning because the conditioned stimulus of Byung-su’s eye twitching elicits the audience’s conditioned response in which they can subtly predict the following scenarios of the movie. In reality, eye twitching does not occur every time before the symptom effects appear. In order to illuminate the movie to understand ourselves as well as others, especially in this case to cope with Alzheimer’s patients, a family institution is the basic unit of society that everyone needs. It plays a crucial role and can be the biggest influence on children’s lives, especially with a mental health because it can shape their behavior. According to the movie Memoirs of the Murderer, the most reflected issue that we observed from the movie tends to be a family background. As the example from the movie on both Byung - Su’s family and Min Tae - Ju’s family, both families have a same common issue which is domestic violence. Byung - Su’s father who is addicted to alcohol, violent, and brutal to his own family, which contributes his family under pressure and tension, and eventually was killed by his own son. Just like the family of Min Tae - Ju, who was abused by his mother, caused him to have a bad attitude towards women and later on becomes a troublemaker.

Moreover, the nurture perspective is also an important factor in determining behavior, personalities, and children’s development. Therefore, the surroundings with a good environment is a basic requirement that most of many families need. Since the past until these days, people still disregard about their physical and mental health. This movie reminds us of the awareness to our health and the surroundings. First, there is a disease called Alzheimer’s. This disease usually occurs during the old age. However, Alzheimer is not just a disease of old age.

According, to the Americans statistic, approximately 200,000 Americans who are 65 years old have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer's Association, 2018). Most people may think that it is just a disease that makes patients forget something, and it is not a serious issue. However, it is not true at all. Alzheimer’s is known to be one of the most tragic diseases to those the sufferers and people who stay around them, and the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can be worse over time. Therefore, people have to be more regarded and concerned about their health. There are many ways to prevent this disease, such as exercising, learning new things and connecting socially. Moreover, this movie also directs the way of taking caring people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. For example, using the voice recorder to record important things about their lives that they need to remember or using music as a treatment because the only thing that they will not forget is music. In addition, the Memoirs of the Murderer also warns us about the injury from an accident such as a car accident. In general, a car accident is caused by losing focus, such as playing on their phone or do something else. Most people who got in a car accident have the likelihood of a brain injury that can lead to amnesia disease. Therefore, to avoid this to happen, when we do something we should not lose the concentration and focus like when people are driving a car they should concentrate on the road.

Updated: Feb 25, 2024
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Memoirs Of a Murderer: Memory And Forgetting With Alzheimer's Disease. (2024, Feb 25). Retrieved from

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