What memory disorder does Dory say she suffers from?
Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies
Disney has, over the years, received its share of well-deserved criticism. Feminist critics in particular, as well as vigilant parents everywhere, worry about young, animated heroines with tiny waists and amble bosoms—heroines who, more often than not, are loved and granted their happy endings because of their beauty. Hand in hand with these beauties come their enemies—strong, powerful characters when they’re male but simply ugly, fat, or old when they are female. Contrast The Little Mermaid’s Ursula with Aladdin’s Jafar, for instance. Even worse, Disney’s villains are often related to their heroines as «wicked» or «evil» stepmothers (Snow White and Cinderella). These absent mothers and evil replacement moms might just be part of the classic fairy tales, but Disney has done nothing to downplay or soften them for young viewers. Nor have they altered their fairy tale endings: happily-ever-after means the girl is coupled up and the evil mother/ugly villain is vanquished, frequently violently. Non-traditional families—with stepparents or siblings, with absent parents, even just single people—are either non-existent or unhappy. Critics worry about the effect of these character types on young, uncritical minds, and such worries seem well founded when one considers that Disney movies and marketing are the first, most frequent, best loved taste of culture in the lives of many very young people. Disney influences almost anyone who wants to, say, own a TV, shop at the mall, go outside. It seems not just fair then, but also important, to note progress and offer praise where it is due. Pixar’s most recent animated feature, co-financed, owned, branded, marketed, and distributed in partnership with Disney, avoids these pitfalls, not just incidentally but purposefully and interestingly, offering young viewers, and the rest of us, important messages about alternative families and alternative heroines.
Like many classic Disney movies, Finding Nemo wholly and conspicuously lacks mothers. Not only is Nemo’s family [End Page 75] male-headed, so are all the other families in this film. The three parents we meet dropping their kids at school are all dads; a sea turtle from whom Marlin gets sage parenting advice is a dad; even the one human parental figure we meet is male (an uncle). Nemo’s mother is killed, hours before his birth, in the film’s harrowing opening scene, along with the 400 eggs containing his would-be brothers and sisters. He and his father, Marlin, are the family’s only survivors.
Thus, by the time we meet a now school-age Nemo in the next scene, Marlin is a loving but overprotective, neurotic father whose parting question to his son on his first day of school is, «What’s the one thing we have to remember about the ocean?» to which his young son mechanically replies, «It’s not safe.» Though it is Nemo who is captured by a scuba diving dentist and placed in an aquarium, the film’s adventure is really Marlin’s. His unwavering search for his son among the tagline’s 3.7 trillion fish seems almost an aside. The real point is learning to let his son experience life and therefore danger, to be happy despite all of the things that can and sadly sometimes do go horribly wrong. Trapped inside a whale and hanging onto its tongue for dear life, Marlin’s new friend Dory prompts him to just let go. «How do you know that we won’t get hurt?» Marlin asks, and Dory replies, «I don’t,» but realizes that the only way out is to «take a shot and hope for the best.» Marlin is amazed that this approach to life works. His task, finding Nemo, seems so difficult that he figures his only chance is by carefully calculating every moment and detail. When, through the kindness of strangers and the loyalty of someone he has only just met, he does find his son, Marlin realizes the value of humor, risk, exploration. This knowledge saves Nemo—Marlin’s film-end advice to Nemo when he drops him at school is, «Go have an adventure»—it brings them closer together so that at the end we find Nemo in a much happier, more functional family from which he is encouraged to enjoy learning, make friends, see the world.
In addition to a positive father-centric family, Finding Nemo offers an eminently recognizable female lead. She is a fish, so the fact that she lacks an hourglass figure is faint praise, but even better, she is. well, she is a little bit nuts. When we first meet Dory, she is suffering from a memory disorder. She cannot keep track of tasks or thoughts for more than a minute at a time. She is a highly flaky, easily distracted, difficult to understand, hard to talk to super-freak. Dory is all of us (male and female) in both our weakest and finest hours. She suffers from lack of love, friendship, trust, and understanding, and it makes her, not weepy-pretty-weak and in need of rescue, but unstable, unsure, and confused. Marlin deals with life’s cruelties by trying to control every moment; Dory forgets because it is easier to let her mind go than to make it focus on what is hard and painful and scary. Her demons creep up on her, and they are scarier than any wicked stepmother or oversized octopus (interestingly, there is no real villain in this movie) because they come from inside. Dory embodies all of us on our bad days when we lack self-confidence, when we let our fears get the better of us, when we secretly suspect we might be losing it. But Dory is our best days too. She remains absolutely loyal: even when snapped at; even when it means risking her own life; even without very much evidence that her loyalty is deserved or even desired. She is brave in the face of sharks, jellyfish, the belly of the whale, and the vastness of the ocean. The film grants her wish, her heart’s desire —loyal friendship and control over her head—as the narrative reward for her goodness, bravery, and devotion and teaches young viewers that happily-ever-after lies in being and having a good friend.
Non-traditional family and non-traditional heroine combine, finally, to offer an alternative idea of home. Nemo and Marlin’s little family has grown from just father and son to include Dory as well. Though there is no hint that Dory and Marlin have, say, fallen in love and gotten married, she does seem a permanent friend who helps take care of and love Nemo. As a dejected Marlin tries to leave her, Dory begs, «Please don’t go away. Please. No one’s ever stuck with me so long before. I remember things better with you because when I look at you, I can feel it. I look at you, and I’m home.» Home becomes friendship, people who will always be there, faith, trust, constancy. For Nemo, home is easy: a father, a friend, some freedom, and a childhood. For Dory, home is more complicated as it centers on Marlin’s trust in her, the chance to help someone, and her own mental stability. We see the effects of «home» in her improved memory, belonging, and state-of-mind. For Marlin, home is taking care of his son but also learning that doing so means not only protecting but also trusting, encouraging adventure, accepting danger.
Though we still want for some moms, Finding Nemo’s happily-ever-after really is happy. We learn that good friends can be family, that a little bit of crazy is not such a bad thing, that one earns love, not through outer beauty, but through trust and loyalty. I came out of last summer’s Disney blockbuster, Lilo and Stitch, similarly encouraged by its alternative family and by female characters who looked realistic in bikinis. If Disney’s hold on kids’ culture remains relentless, at least their messages are finally turning towards an alternative.
Whatever Happened to Baby Dory?
The main character in Disney’s Finding Dory says she suffers from short-term memory loss. But is it true?
2016 DISNEY-PIXAR/All rights Rserved
Dory, Nemo’s neighbor, is back on our screens in a sequel that focuses on her short-term memory loss. Pascale Piolino, a memory specialist, gives a more precise diagnosis and hypothesizes on the possible causes of this amnesia.
Films like Spellbound (1945), Memento (2000), Mulholland Drive (2001), The Man Without a Past (2002) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), are proof that memory problems are a recipe for success at the movies. Science fiction screenwriters know the narrative strength of storylines where one can erase the memories of a bothersome witness or of unhappy lovers. Just as fanciful (but nevertheless a subject of research) the implantation of false memories was particularly useful in Total Recall (1990) and Inception (2010). In contrast to these high-tech visions where memory is just a digital object with files that can be written and deleted at will, other films take a more realistic approach, doubtlessly based on medical facts about different types of amnesia. Among these, Dory, the blue tang fish who already featured in Finding Nemo (2003), is one of the most touching. Contrary to popular belief though, Dory has no problem with her short-term memory. This makes her just like the tattooed hero of Memento and patient “H.M.”, famous in the annals of neuropsychology. Pascale Piolino, head of the LMC laboratory,1 helped us establish a diagnosis for Dory by delving into the complexities of the different types of memory and the reconstruction of souvenirs, which can sometimes be shamelessly falsified by our malfunctioning brain.
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In a flashback, we see Dory as a baby babbling that she “suffers from short-term memory loss.” This phrase, which is repeated throughout the movie, strikes you as inappropriate…
Pascale Piolino: It’s the only thing in the film that doesn’t ring true about this otherwise very coherent amnesic character. The “short-term memory” she refers to is the memory of the present. It allows us to remember information for a few seconds, before forgetting most of it. This includes memorizing figures until writing them down, or remembering the words that have just been spoken so as to follow a conversation. Now, these things are not a problem for Dory.
But she does often lose track of conversations, which is one of the comic traits of her character!
P.P.: Yes, she loses her train of thought, or even her way when she’s distracted. But, apart from that, she is able to hold a conversation for several minutes, whereas patients with short-term memory problems cannot repeat a sentence or a short series of figures they have just heard, even without being distracted. It is generally accepted that our short-term memory allows us to recall “ 7 items, plus or minus 2 Fermer Between 5 and 9 items: this is the number of things that we are able to recall for a few seconds. However, a series of seven elements (8, 3, 5, 2, 1, 9, 4) can also read (835, 219, 4), thus giving us the possibility to remember four more. Mnemonic techniques therefore enable us to expand the capacities of the short-term memory. ,” also referred to as “the magical number seven.” 2
Even though it would have been counterintuitive for the film audience to refer to long-term memory, is this Dory’s real problem?
P.P.: Exactly. One needs to understand that the storage range of long-term memory is very broad—between one minute and a lifetime. It is clear that Dory has problems: she records information for a few seconds or minutes, but gradually forgets if she gets distracted.
Dory resembles Shelby (Guy Pearce), the hero of Memento. In one scene of this film, after an argument with Natalie (Carrie-Ann Moss), who he knows is lying, Shelby wants to write things down and searches desperately for a pen that she has hidden, before she slams the door to make him lose his train of thought.
P.P.: This is true. Dory also resembles the famous «Patient H.M.» Fermer The pseudonym of Henry Gustav Molaison, an American who, in 1953, had his medial temporal lobes, including the hippocampus, removed. The operation was effective against his epileptic fits, which did not respond to medication. However, it also gave him anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia concerning several years of his past, while his short-term memory remained unharmed. He could play chess or follow a conversation, but any distraction would cause him to lose the thread. All three suffer from anterograde amnesia Fermer Incapacity to memorize everyday events over time, following a trauma (psychological shock or brain damage, notably to the hippocampus). However, these patients do remember the past before the trauma. : they are incapable of memorizing new information for longer than a few minutes. This usually follows a physical or psychological brain trauma, such as the removal of the medial temporal lobes, including the hippocampus Fermer Small structure in the brain essential for long-term memory, in particular episodic memory. It belongs to the limbic system and is located in the medial temporal lobe. , in the case of “patient H.M.” For Shelby, it was his wife’s murder coupled with a knock on the head during the attack, although his case is more complex and we’ll come back to it… For Dory, the original trauma is not revealed in the film. It appears to date back to early childhood since, in the flashback that you mention, we see her as a baby and already amnesic, hence the absence of a past: she progressively forgets things and almost always has.
9 Memory Loss Quotes That Will Inspire You
Having a loved one who is experiencing memory loss is never easy. But sometimes it can help to know you’re not alone.
Reading inspirational quotes about memory loss can provide a sense of solidarity. On days when it feels difficult to see a silver lining, you may find that turning to the words of great writers that spin profundity from pain lightens your heart just a bit. Revealing universal truths, exquisite turns of phrase, and even humor, these writers give us words to hold onto when things feel tough.
Here are nine quotes about memory loss that we hope will inspire you.
“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”
Italian poet Cesare Pavese said of his work that it was, “an attempt to express a cluster of fantastic associations, of which one’s own perception of reality consists, with a sufficient wholeness.”
Indeed, when a loved one’s memory suffers, they may not remember certain days, but their perception of reality and how they relate to that reality, remains vital. This quote reminds us that even if the minutiae of life is lost, the moments that demonstrate our individuality are with us forever.
“Alzheimer’s is not about the past—the successes, the accolades, the accomplishments… Alzheimer’s is about the present and the struggle, the scrappy brawl, the fight to live with a disease. It’s being in the present, the relationships, the experiences, which is the core of life, the courage to live in the soul.”
By describing his battle with Alzheimer’s as a “scrappy brawl” in his novel On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s, author Greg O’Brien reminds us that nothing is over until it’s over, and that one diagnosis doesn’t mean that memory loss has won.
In reminding us that the core of life is lived in the present, Greg O’ Brien encourages us to take each moment as it comes, and find the “courage to live in the soul.” When watching memory loss impact a loved one, it’s important to treasure every moment, and not let regret cloud your appreciation of who they are and the quality time you spend with them.
“I suffer from short-term memory loss. It runs in my family. At least I think it does… where are they?”
If you’re looking for funny quotes about memory loss, there’s no better character to provide levity than the forgetful fish Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo. Despite her short-term memory loss, Dory is full of positivity, hilarity, and heart. In the movie, she teaches the audience that those living with a disability can find humor in their situations and that love and family live deeper than short-term memory.
“Love is the only memory one never loses, Isaac.” His father had said. “Because even if one loses his mind the memory always remains in the heart.”
In this quote, from his 2014 novel The Romantic, Mexican-born novelist Felix Alexander reminds us of the ties between love and memory. Even when a loved one with memory loss has difficulty with short- or long-term retention, love remains imprinted in a deeper place.
“A man does not consist of memory alone. He has feeling, will, sensibility, moral being… It is here… you may touch him and see a profound change.”
This quote, by famous author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, comes from his 1985 book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales.
In a kind and delicate language, Sacks emphasizes the idea that memory is not all that makes us who we are. Feelings, likes and dislikes, and simple physical presence are all key pieces of identity that can be cherished when memory begins to slip away.
“Memory loss is strange. It’s like showing up for a movie after it’s started. I’m sure I’vemissed something. I don’t know if it’s important or not. So I do the best I can to lose myself in the story and hope the gaps don’t matter. Later, I can look it up, or someone will remind me, or maybe it’s perfectly fine to not know.”
In her 2015 young adult novel Wishing for You, author Elizabeth Langston writes from the perspective of a teenage girl with memory loss. In this quote, we get a profound sense of acceptance and the calming idea that even if one’s memory has gaps, it does not need to negatively impact one’s enjoyment of life.
“My short-term factual memory can be like water; events are a brief disturbance on the surface and then it closes back up again, as if nothing ever touched it. But it’s a strange fact that my long-term memory remains strong, perhaps because it recorded events when my mind was unaffected. My emotional memory is intact too, perhaps because feelings are recorded and stored in a different place than facts. The things that happened deeper in the past, and deeper in the breast, are still there for me, under the water.”
In her incredible autobiography Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective, record-setting basketball coach and Olympic medal winner Pat Summitt gave us an intimate perspective on her experiences with an early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis, which she received in 2011.
In this beautiful quote, she reminds us that “emotional memory” and the memories of her heart are still a part of her, even within the debilitating disease.
“Memory loss teaches us not to entrance ourselves in the repetitive.” by Tamanend
Tamanend was Chief of the Turtle clan in the Lenni-Lenape nation, known as a lover of peace and friendship. Centuries before there were official medical terms for various types of dementia and memory loss, Tamanend made this profound observation.
By urging us to learn from memory loss, Tamanend points out that a sharp awareness of life can make our time, even a short time, brighter and more vivid. Being “entranced” by the repetition of everyday tasks can lead to living one’s life in a fog, and never truly appreciating the world moment to moment.
Memory loss teaches us many things, but well before we understood the exact scientific causes of Alzheimer’s and dementia, Tamanend encouraged us to shift our mindset, and fight our way out of the daily grind.
“Hi lover,” he says to me, completely forgetting what happened before. He knows who I am. He knows that I am the one person who he loves, has always loved. No disease, no person can take that away.”
From the 2009 novel The Leisure Seeker by American writer Michael Zadoorian, this quote highlights main character Ella who is speaking about her husband of 50 years who is struggling with memory loss. Though Alzheimer’s is stealing her husband’s memory and Ella is in pain from cancer, she is a witty narrator who is determined to eke out one last bit of adventure from life.
This quote reminds us that even when memory fails, love lives somewhere deeper in the body than just the brain. No disease can take away that kind of bond between two people.
Memory care at Walker Methodist
We’ve re-named our memory care communities Kaleidoscope, a fitting name suggesting metamorphosis, vibrancy, and life.
At Walker Methodist, we don’t just take care of people with memory loss or dementia. We see their value and recognize their worth in this stage of their lives. We not only meet their physical needs, but we care for the needs of the person as a whole being.
If you have a loved one who is experiencing this transformation, reach out to our team today and learn how we can help enhance their lives, even during this time of change.