Would You Take a Pill to Erase Bad Memories?

Jessica Hoppe

Might be time to fire your therapist. Scientists say they can remove traumatic memories with a tiny beta blocker.

Despite controversy scientists have gone ahead with research to develop a drug that can ease anxiety and erase negative memories. According to the Daily Mail, the pill was tested by Dr Merel Kindt of Amsterdam University on 60 men and women in classic Pavlovian style. The results proved that the beta blocker does in fact work as the group who had received the pill showed signs of diminished memory as opposed to the placebo group.

However, British experts oppose the breakthrough saying it raises “disturbing ethical questions about what makes us human.” While it may seem revolutionary in some ways, experts say it could have damaging psychological consequences, preventing those who take it from learning from their mistakes.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental-health charity Mind, expressed concern over the use of drugs at all in curing phobias and anxiety—the ‘fundamentally pharmacological’ approach. He even went on to say that the unintended consequences ‘could include the eradication of positive memories’.

Would you be willing to sacrifice your happy memories to erase the bad ones?

I recall watching the film Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, which dealt with this possibility and wondering if given the opportunity would I do it—would I erase all my bad memories? I’m pretty sure the message of the film is that the reality our of experience, which is made up of good and bad memories, is in fact the beauty of life.

How can we truly understand the good if we never experience the bad?

For full details on the study read the Daily Mail.