Soldiers know the tunnel vision that can kick in during combat, the effects it has on their memories and what they can report to commanders in after-action reviews. They train to automate the habit of forcing themselves to move their head and upper body from side to side to escape the tunnel [demonstrating].
Whether it’s an enemy ambush in an alley or a sexual assault in a bedroom, our brain will encode and retain what were—for us, moment-by-moment as the attack unfolded – the central details of our experience. Seeing an enemy suddenly appear and fire at us from 10 feet away, and fearing we will die. Struggling to breath with a hand over our face, and fearing we will die. Seeing the enemy’s face as our bullets enter his chest. Seeing the face of a boy we know as he holds us down and tugs at our clothes. Such details can be burned into our brains for the rest of our lives.
Most of the other details will be lost, and over enough time, that includes even relatively central ones—at least if they haven’t been retrieved and re-encoded.