We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.



That screaming, crying, “I hate you” tantrum I threw in the Hecht’s parking lot as an 8-year-old? I’ve tried—oh God, I’ve tried—to erase it from my mind, but it might just be stored somewhere near my right calf. And that 11th-grade afternoon trapped in a parked car with Ross Tabachow? Lodged somewhere near my small intestines, perhaps. At least according to American University professor Michael Salla, who says we store these “toxic memories”—which he defines as remembrances charged with anger, fear, sadness, and resentment—not only in our brains but in cells throughout our bodies. The aggressive and self-destructive behavior in East Timor, Kosovo, and Sri Lanka, where Salla conducted his field research, has had much bloodier consequences than mine, but his efforts to help sinners both great and small neutralize the toxicity could have universal benefits. Salla will offer a daylong seminar on the “transmutation” of toxic memories at 9 a.m.—until then, I’ll try to stay out of parking lots—at American University’s Butler Pavilion, in the sixth-floor conference room, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Free. (301) 330-5871. (Elissa Silverman)