Memory, Memes, Cognition, and Mental Illness – Toward a New Synthesis

Volume 13
Issue 3
Hoyle Leigh
When memory became portable in the course of evolution, the information content of memory became replicable as memes. Propagation of memes started with imitation, but with the advent of human language, memes thrived and caused enhanced brain capacity for meme processing through cognition. Culture comprises of endemic memes that enter young brains and may be protective or pathogenic. Childhood nurturance and stress enter the brain as memes and cause epigenetic changes in genes for future resilience or vulnerability. Personal development is the process of interaction among the epigenetically determined brain, resident memes, and newly introduced memes. The selfplex, the sense of self, represents a dominant memeplex formed through development, and consists of several memeplexes usually known as roles. In certain persons, there may be conflicting selfplexes, one dominant and the other(s) repressed. Mental health is attained when there is a memetic democracy, where the selfplexes are tolerated, and may shift and adapt. Stress attenuates resident memes including selfplex and introduces stress memes that may awaken/ strengthen repressed memes, resulting in a memetic anarchy and a final common pathway psychiatric syndrome. Treatment of such syndromes should be geared toward both the brain state and suppression of pathologic memes. Broad spectrum and specific meme-directed therapies should be considered.

Key words: meme, psychotherapy, cognitive mental illness