Posted by: dystopiandaze | February 16, 2011

Just keep swimming

Not only are the boys of the Maze trapped, but none of them have any recollection of their past. With ages ranging from about twelve to seventeen, none of the boys remember anything about their family, homes or friends before the Maze. The furthest back each boy can remember is when they were transported to the Maze in an elevator-like box and discovered as a new member of the Maze by the rest of the boys. The Maze Runner begins with Thomas’ arrival to the Maze and his own panicked thoughts as he realizes he is suffering a tremendous memory loss.

My name is Thomas, he thought.

That… that was the only thing he could remember about his life.

He didn’t understand how this could be possible. His mind functioned without flaw, trying to calculate his surroundings and predicament. Knowledge flooded his thoughts, facts and images, memories and details of the world and how it works. He pictured snow on trees, running down a leaf-strewn road, eating a hamburger, the moon casting a pale glow on a grassy meadow, swimming in a lake, a busy city square with hundreds of people bustling about their business. … And yet he didn’t know where he came from, or how he’d gotten inside the dark life, or who his parents were. He didn’t even know his last name. Images of people flashed across his mind, but there was no recognition, their faces replaced with haunted smears of color. He couldn’t think of one person he knew, or recall a single conversation.

-pg. 1-2, The Maze Runner

But how could such a peculiar type of memory loss occur? Even though Hollywood likes to portray amnesia as a quick blow to the head that results in a complete loss of one’s past with the maintained ability to function normally in society, this type of amnesia does not really exist. I decided to research memory loss a bit to see if I could determine what type of amnesia Thomas and his friends could be suffering from.

Dory (from the movie Finding Nemo) suffers short-term memory loss

Hysterical amnesia seems like a good contender at first, for it is a loss of memory triggered by a traumatic event. Perhaps all of our boys experienced something extremely traumatic in their past? Strange that they would all forget equally and no one would recover though… Posthypnotic amnesia also seems somewhat plausible, however there would have to be some major advances in hypnotism for all of the boys to forget so many memories entirely. Finally, I found a particular type of psychogenic amnesia called dissociative fugue, in which “the patient forgets his current identity and wanders off, yet remains mentally together enough to start a new life, sometimes remembering his old self only years later”. However this last theory of mine is also thwarted, for most people experiencing dissociative fugue also experience severe depression or other serious mental illnesses; none of our characters in The Maze Runner exhibit any symptoms of these mental illnesses.

So what could possibly be happening to Thomas and his friends? Why are they trapped in the Maze and why can’t they remember their pasts? Do you have any theories about how the boys could have lost their memories?


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