Erasing bad memories with a pill

By Courtney Lane - bio - email

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - If you had the option, would you erase painful life experiences from your memory? A blood pressure pill may one day give patients the opportunity to do just that. We wanted to know if East Texans would use it...

"Do you have anything in your life, like a bad memory you just wish you could forget about," I asked.

"Yeah, like my marriage," replied Monet Deveraux.

"Some people might have things that were so traumatic it might be helpful to them, but I think most times the bad times are when you grow and learn the most," said Tom Moore.

"I have a lot of bad memories, said Beth Davis. "Getting left as a child. I got left on the Kansas City turnpike," she laughed.

"There's nothing I want to forget except mistakes I've made in life, you know," said Larry Johnigan. "Some choices I've made but other than that, but you learned from those. Oh yeah, I learned from those so I'm fine."

"Ex-relationships and bad things that happen from that," said Dustin Wilhelm. "[I] definitely want to remove those memories."

Of course, it does raise some issues, like, is it ethical to erase memories; even the most painful ones?

We explored deeper into this mind-boggling possibility...

The new dutch study examines a drug called propranolol. It's been used in lower doses to ease nerves. Now, dutch doctors say it worked on humans, blocking fearful memories of spiders.

Dr. Ed Dominguez says that doesn't necessarily prove it's effectiveness.

"A major problem is there's a huge chasm between the emotional response of looking at a picture of a spider and getting a little electrical shock and having the propranolol block that memory versus the memory of seeing a loved one die or having some type of being the victim of a violent crime," said Dr. Ed Dominguez. "I think there's a huge difference between these levels of fear and these levels of pain."

Some psychologists say the findings could be promising for those who have gone through traumatic events.

"For people like veterans and people who've gone through incredible trauma and suffer with things like PTSD, I think giving them the ability to live life in a normal fashion and not be bombarded by those memories and flashbacks I think would be very helpful," said Physologist Wilson Renfroe.

Some say they would jump at the chance to take a pill and forget painful memories, but where do you draw the line of altering with the mind?

"My boyfriend broke up with me kind of thing, or I made a stupid mistake and lost money on a bad debt or something; there are some things that we actually need to learn through," explained Renfroe.

"That may be fine for the movies, maybe for a novel, but I'm not sure that humans are going to be better served by completely eradicating or eliminating all these bad memories," said Dr. Dominguez. "If you do that, there's always that old adage that if we forget the past, we're going to be doomed to relive it."

"The idea is fascinating, and the study continues. The dutch team says that their next step is testing it on people who are suffering from some kind of disorder or phobia.

We want to know what you think. Would you take this pill to erase some of your bad memories? Just go to our home page and scroll down to take our poll question.