Spirit of Childhood, TOS: S3E4 “And the Children Shall Lead”

In what is considered one of the worst Star Trek: The Original Series episodes ever made, squeezing itself snuggly into the less than stellar Season 3, a group of children are compelled by an evil alien spirit to kill their parents. The sub-par child acting, and laughable alien ghost named Gorgan, all work to deprecate the already goofy and forgettable plot. Without any memory of what they had done, the children had been coerced into summoning a space demon, following his orders to kill their parents and then to take over the Enterprise. They were easily cured of the whole enchantment when the Enterprise crew played video footage of their parents, thereby returning the lost memories.

What can a scientist say about said episode? Not much really, but the magical contrivance cure got me thinking about how childhood memories can be used during therapy for recovery from trauma, depression, or mental illness. An interesting article on Psychotherapy Networker talks about how psychotherapist Rhegina Sinozich evokes the power of childhood memories as a meditation tool in her therapy sessions. Childhood was a time of innocence and carefree play for most people. Even those who have had particularly awful childhoods still experienced some good memories, which can be useful for a meditation exercise. There is no wrong way to practice it. Simply think about a happy childhood memory, such as a birthday party, playing in the park with friends, or a fun-filled vacation. Focus on being in the moment and the emotions associated with it and let yourself experience the joy.

Recollection meditation is popular in both religious and secular meditation practices. Some spiritual applications involve meditating on the memories or life events of a particular religious figure. The more personal approach of focusing on your own childhood memories helps to reconnect with your individual experiences of joy, happiness, and love. This type of intentional, focused recollection may also increase creativity by helping the brain achieve a ‘flow state’. This is a mental state associated with total immersion and energized focus. Children have a captivating fascination about the world around them and remembering those experiences can help reintroduce these feelings into the adult brain. Overall, meditation is a free and healthy way to reduce stress. The positivity buried in each person’s memories is accessible to them at any time.

Seeing images of their parents helped the space children to remember the past before they were controlled by Gorgan the low-budget space ghost. It helped them break free from a force that was all consuming, much like how our modern battles with depression, mental illness, or trauma can imprison our minds in cycles of misery. To break the cycle, evoke a positive state of mind; to free yourself, seek joy!

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