A drug has been been developed to erase painful memories – remind you of anything?
The Dutch study released today says the power of such memories could be dampened when a person thinks about the traumatic events after taking the drugs.
The theory goes: the drug, beta-adrenergic receptor blockers, work by changing the way the frightening memories are stored. Each time a memory is recalled it changes a little, and the new version is recorded in the long-term memory stash via brain chemical fluctuations in a process called reconsolidation. The beta-blockers could interfere with the brain chemicals, blocking reconsolidation of the emotional component of the memory, but leaving the rest of the memory intact.
Although scientists have welcomed the new drug and the healing qualities it brings, it does make you think about the downside of zapping bits of memory away.
True, for people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder this is the miracle medicine, the condition is frightening and takes years of immensely expensive psycho therapy to begin to let go of those horrid images.
It is no coincidence the news of this new scientific breakthrough was revealed today, the day after Valentines.
The leap from frizzling fearful memories to emotional ones is not too far away now.
Our link between memory and behaviour is too important, our character is formed by what we live and what we remember. It is not for nothing the saying goes: “For what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” In the film memories are erased, but we only see the painful memories built on love being wiped out, there is no mention about the memory of fear. We can live with the fear of spiders, heights and other phobias but the impulsive reaction to get rid of the memory of a broken heart will always be stronger.
I wonder how many more people are going to start buying the widely available blood pressure pills in the hopes that it might cure them of their painful memory, administrating their own medicine recreating the Dutch study in the hope that all those bad days would go away.
The dangers of erasing memories are beautiful portrayed in this film, one of my favourite films of all time.
Scientific breakthroughs will always be welcome but even for the best medical intentions it doesn’t stop a new crop of quacks from arising and taking advantage of the highly-marketable research and of susceptible people.