Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Would you want a pill which could lessen bad memories?

Everyone has bad experiences in life. It is part of being human and is pretty much unavoidable. While we wish to hold onto memories which are dear to us and give us a warm-fuzzy feeling inside, what if we could take a pill to rid ourselves of painful and traumatic memories from events we may want to erase from our memory banks. Would you take it? What would be some of the downsides of having such a drug? Potential for abuse can be expected, as with any drug, and if it got into the wrong hands, imagine the horrors that it could cause.

In my opinion, our experiences and memories of the events in our lives, whether good or bad, make us who we are. On the other hand, if you have someone who experienced something that was so terrible that the memory of it is ruining his/her quality of life, wouldn't it make sense to take advantage of such a drug? Or are humans going to far with messing with Mother Nature?

The Memory Pill

An ongoing study suggests it's a choice that may not be so far off. The drug is called propranolol and it's already used to treat high blood pressure. As Lesley Stahl reports, the prospect of using propranolol to modify memory has some trauma victims filled with hope, and some critics alarmed by the potential for misuse.
Considering the potential for abuse, one commenter pointed out: "Has anyone considered what criminals can do with this drug? Isn't guilt and shame a factor in keeping some people honest and law abiding? Now if someone steals something or even MURDERS someone, All they would have to do is take a pill and not feel bad about it at all. I think it could be a great asset to some people but a very dangerous way to escape the guilt feelings that the criminal element would, and SHOULD feel." Also, will this be good news for rapist and those who commit crime in general?
Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, sees about 400 rape cases a year and says she and her colleagues have concerns about the use of the pill. Scaramella says it's important for women to feel in control when they are recovering from a sexual assault, and taking propranolol means giving up control over their memories. Secondly, she says, "anyone who took that medicine could be in trouble in a legal case," since defense lawyers may say that the victim was so unstable that she needed drugs to cope, or that the propranolol may have altered her memory about the assault. Other ethicists say the pill may erase the rage that victims will need to go on and prosecute their attackers.
In the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, after their painful break-up, the characters of Joel and Clementine used a procedure to erase their memories of each other. But real life isn't quite as easy. Or is it. Would you want to have your painful or unpleasant memories erased from your mind?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

No, I wouldn't. My memories and memories of bad experiences give me power in my life. I've learned to be a better judge of character. All experiences give you an insight to yourself and to the world around you. If I got rid of my bad memories then what will i have learned from life, how will you have grown to become a better person. Life is filled with good and bad because life needs to be balanced. People need the bad with the good because its how we grow.

JDHURF said...

I, like sara, would not like to have my bad experiences erased. Without the bad the good is mundane, the negative helps one appreciate and value the positive to a larger degree.

CyberKitten said...

Stardust asked: Would you want to have your painful or unpleasant memories erased from your mind?

No I wouldn't. Our experiences, both good & bad, make us what we are. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger... at least sometimes.

Stardust said...

sara michelle, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I checked out your blog and see that you have used my stuff and am flattered. You can include the name of my blog when you use stuff, too.

I agree that the experiences we have in life, good or bad, teaches us things and all of our experiences do give us insight into ourselves and the world around us. We need to remember those experiences to make us who we are.

Stardust said...

jd - hi stranger! Nice to "see" you here again. Yes, I agree that the negatives of life help us to really appreciate the value of the good things when they happen.

cyberkitten - and yes, our experiences are what make us, and there is a kind of satisfaction in being able to endure and cope with whatever life brings our way.

beepbeepitsme said...

While the human brain is capable of enjoying the addition of chemical components, I don't see how the production of more of them can be avoided.

Let's face it, the human brain enjoys added chemicals. (not all chemicals of course and probably not all brains)

But history shows us that human beings have been "self - medicating their brains" for a long time, this one just continues in the long line of legal brain medication.

I doubt that this drug, would remove the inhibitions of an individual entirely. Unless, that person had the potential without the drug, to be extremely free of inhibitions in the first place.

This is, of course, speculation on my part which is based partly in my own experience.

I am unlikely to rip off all my clothes and run around the town when I am drunk (much to the relief of everyone), and my speculation is that I would react similarly to other medications.

I may of course feel great about myself when drunk, or medicated, but I am not convinced that the added chemicals would automatically alter my "internal predispositions" (whatever that means).

I just reread that, and it doesn't make a lot of sense.

I think I will self-medicate with chocolate.

Tommy said...

Maybe if we could give that pill to everyone in the Islamic world we could end the war on terror!