If you remove the emotions associated with a memory, is it really your memory any longer?
There was something Jamie Madrox said early in the current volume of X-Factor, that he didn't remember whether it was him or a duplicate that got a law degree, because all the memories mix together inside his head. He added it wasn't so different from anyone else, that when you try to remember something, you reconstruct the past out of a jumble of memories.
But when you do that, there's no guarantee you'd reconstruct events properly. You might forget something, or your perception might be altered by your state of mind at the moment you're attempting the reconstruction. And how you proceed can be impacted by how you reconstruct your memory of whatever it is you're trying to recollect. If a person you have spotty history with asks for a favor, you might think back over that history. Maybe you're in a bad mood, and forget some kindness they showed you. Or you're feeling good and only remember the good times, or minimize the significance of the bad times.
All this come to mind because of Faith going to Drusilla and asking for the Lorophage to draw out all the pain and hurt she's had*. What interests me is the idea of identity, and what makes a person who they are. Certainly our experiences, the effect they have on us, and how we react to them are a part of it. If you take away emotions associated with an experience, be they good or bad, that changes you. That's the whole point of why these people come to Drusilla. They can't handle the pain, they need it excised to go forward. Having done that, do the experiences that brought about the emotional distress play any part in making them who they are any longer?
It puts me in mind of that line from that Bruce Lee movie. 'What is this, an exhibition? You need emotional content.' If you remember something, but feel nothing when you remember it, does it have any impact on your life? It might as well be a story you heard about someone else, or a movie you watched. It's life at a remove, and how much of that can you make of your past before you're unrecognizable? Every change made produces a shift in the person as a whole. Enough little changes, and are you even the same person anymore?
Well that's what Faith's shooting for, obviously. She doesn't want to be this person who can be manipulated by her desire that just once an authority figure would actually care about her for who she is, not what she can do for them. But law of unintended consequences and all, what if she loses parts of herself she likes? That's the trick, it's not so simple to determine what events, and what emotions are connected to what personality traits. Your significant other cheats on you and you break up. This produces a more cynical outlook in you, which makes it difficult for you to trust others. Removing the trauma of that breakup might change that, but you might also learn that while you found it difficult to place trust in others initially, once someone had earned it, you would trust them implicitly. What if that's lost in the process, because you don't have that moment when it was so clear to you how important people you can really trust are?
Which goes back to whether someone who changes like that is really the same person anymore, or are they someone entirely new standing where that old version did. Is there a line, some percent of the total parts of a person that once changed, equals a new person? Or is it something that varies with the observer, each one comparing this version of their friend to the one they think they know, all coming to different conclusions?
* I think it might be a ruse, that Faith needed a way to get close to the demon without arousing the suspicion of Dru or her followers. Something about her tearful, kneeling posture seems so over-the-top. She knows Dru's history, how she thought her gifts were a curse (and how Angelus played on that). Faith might figure a young woman with powers which carry a terrible burden would be someone Dru would instinctively want to help, since no one helped her.