60 Minutes segment: A Pill to Forget

In May of 2004 I posted: “If you experienced the worst day of your life… something truly horrible…and there was a drug that made you forget the previous 24 hours, would you take it? If not, why?”

Last Sunday on 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl did a segment titled “A Pill to Forget?” From the 60 Minutes website:

“If there were something you could take after experiencing a painful or traumatic event that would permanently weaken your memory of what had just happened, would you take it?”

Turns out there is such a pill. Sort of. It’s called propranolol, a medication commonly used for high blood pressure … and unofficially for stage fright.

It turns out our memories are sort of like Jello – they take time to solidify in our brains. And while they’re setting, it’s possible to make them stronger or weaker. It all depends on the stress hormone adrenaline. Propranolol seems to make the memories less intense.

The people in the 60 Minutes story had no trouble answering the question I posed back in 2004: Hell yes!

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