Pill to erase bad memories

Red-bluepillsI first wondered about this back in 2004. A couple of years later, 60 Minutes did a segment on one such drug. Now Dutch researchers claim to have erased bad memories by using ‘beta-blocker’ drugs, which are usually prescribed to patients with heart disease.

“The astonishing treatment could help sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder and those whose lives are plagued by hurtful recurrent memories. But British experts said the breakthrough raises disturbing ethical questions about what makes us human. They also warned it could have damaging psychological consequences, preventing those who take it from learning from their mistakes.”

Would I take such a pill? I think I might. I haven’t experienced more than my share of pain or trauma but if I’m a better person for it, I’m hard pressed to say how.

“But you are YOU because of the sum of your experiences, smays.com,” one might argue.

Yes, and I’d just be a different person if I took the pill and erased the memories. In fact, maybe I did take the pill. I wouldn’t remember, would I?

And before we leave this topic… how is this different from taking pills that alter our perception of this moment (Valuium, anti-anxiety meds, etc)?

5 thoughts on “Pill to erase bad memories

  1. On the cause versus effect scale, you can only be at cause for things you are willing to take responsibility for. When you abdicate responsibility for something, you relinquish any control in that area. In the future, you can take it, but you can’t dish it out. You’ve elected someone else as boss from now on in that sphere.
    Not for me, thanks.

  2. This sort of question and its ilk are the stock in trade of the post-human age. Voluntary forgetting is, in fact, an ingredient in some pretty good science fiction- ‘Glasshouse’ by Charlie Stross comes to mind right off, but there’s lots more where that came from.
    Answering the question of who exactly we are was so much more simple when the object of that question could not fundamentally change itself. At this prehistoric date we’re still monkeying with basic neurochemistry, but it won’t be long before we’re manipulating stuff at the molecular level, offloading our thought processes to external agents, and creating living organisms from first principles.
    I think that if our civilization can survive to 2025 or 2030, we’re going to get to answer ALL of these questions, at our leisure, since we will all be able to live as weakly-godlike immortal multiple-instantiation entities.

  3. My good friend John Dewar has been providing tasty elixirs with very similar results for over 100 years… and i would assume that while his side effects can be a bit troublesome, they don’t compare to the long list that will accompany this pill. Cheers!

  4. Kind of like the “little flashy thing” that Tommy Lee Jones used on folks in the movie “Men In Black.” Just erased their memory for the previous day or so.

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