Posted by: dystopiandaze | February 17, 2011

Extreme psychology

Well, throughout the book the boys believe that they are being watched, perhaps observed, as if they are in some elaborate experiment. Their captors certainly do not want them to simply die, for the boys receive supplies from the mysterious elevator. Even though they live relatively rustic and simple lives in the Glade (the inset of the Maze that is safe from the monsters beyond its walls) they are safe from any immediate danger. That is, until Thomas shows up and everything begins to change; no new boys are delivered to the Glade, nor any supplies. New alliances are formed amongst the boys of the Maze and new dangers present themselves.

Edited from cureheadachesnow.com

As the reader, I found myself questioning again and again the possibility that the Maze might be some type of sick psychology study. The Maze itself would have to have been extremely difficult to have built, let alone maintain. The authenticity of the sun, plants and living creatures in the Maze all seem difficult to simulate as well. And again, how could all of the boys have lost their memories? Even if these hypothetical mad scientists/psychologists wanted to erase the boys’ memories, how could they?

One of the great things about dystopian fiction is that we can almost always expect the future (at least in these books!) to have very advanced technology. However I don’t like a fictional technology that isn’t at least founded in some root of truth… again after a bit more research, I found out that we’re actually making some progress on the science of purposefully “deleting” memories. According to Discover (one of my favorite science magazines), a team of scientists

“…planted two separate traumatic memories in the rats’ brains. The memories were in the form of sounds (a siren and a beep), each paired with an electric shock. The researchers later replayed the sounds, forcing the rats to retrieve the memories. When playing back the beeping sound (without a shock) for half the animals, the team administered the enzyme inhibitor U0126 directly into the rats’ amygdala, a section of the brain associated with emotion. The next day, when both sounds were played, the rats who had been given the drug were fearful of the siren but not of the beep, suggesting that the beep-plus-shock memory was blocked.”

-Susan Kruglinski, “How to Erase a Single Memory”, Discover 2008

So taking this seed of a technology and imagining its growth, perhaps it is plausible that one day a person’s memories could be deleted selectively. But the question still remains: why are these boys being studied in such an elaborate (and dangerous) experiment?

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Responses

  1. I like how you included research to relate this book to the real world. Of course, it seems unimaginable to us at this point that our memories could be erased, but with crazy advances in technology who knows?! A little scary to see that there is even a glimmer of reality to this wild idea.

    • Thanks! I find it pretty scary too!


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