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.
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?