Science now claims that they have a pill that will help you forget those anguishing times when traumatic events took place such as 9-11. I personally am not too sure that I would care to take one of these pills as good or bad they still are a part of my memories and serve to make me strong.
I do not think that I would want to eliminate any of my bad memories. This may sound like a masochistic thought but we can view traumatic memories as a vital part of our psychic makeup. Life is filled with an assortment of painful experiences which comprise the shape of gut-wrenching experiences. It does not matter if the pain originates from something which has beenfall us personally, witnessing a loved one suffering or as a result of our own memories where we caused the traumatic experience towards another.
Experiments of a similar nature were conducted years ago by the use of electric shock treatments and the results were more or less unfeeling zombies. How I can recall the early horror movies from my youthful days where some mad scientist asserts that he has the cure all for human pain but inadvertently overlooks the human need for trauma and pain in order for the individual to develop into a normal functioning being. A pill to erase bad memories and events may seem like science fiction but as we learn in our research of the news it is quickly becoming a reality but it could also be on the brink of a nightmare as well.
If we selectively erase portions of our memory we are deleting something that has become a building block for our human development. Good or bad, the post-traumatic stress syndrome often associated with events such as war, experiences like rape or any other traumatic situations are part of us. Would we willingly care to remove anything which makes us who we are? At first it may seem like a good idea to remove bad memories but is it really? Would you really want to remove the remorseful feelings of a drunk driver when in one moment of his intoxicated state he eliminates a complete family? These types of people need to live with the bad decisions that they made. It will in the end make them a better person. Perhaps the horror, guilt and remorse for what they have done will serve as a reminder for others. Each of us have loads of excess baggage much of which we may not be proud of however as unpleasant as it may seem, it is there to make us what we are.
The experience relating to an individual named Beatriz Arguedas represents a learning process. Seeing the man commit suicide by leaping in front of her train instilled a greater value towards life and living for her. Naturally, she would be upset and sometimes need intensive counseling. The drug propranolol is not the solution. My understanding from reading the news article transcript and researching the propranolol drug is that this beta blocker type substance when used for anxiety treatment relating to Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) leaves the memory of the event intact but the feelings associated with the issue has been numbered.
I think that if this was entirely possible that we would lose some of our own psychological makeup in the process. We are a sum total of our experiences which we have untaken in the past. With the act of bypassing those which make us uncomfortable we are losing some of our own self. The story of the discovery clearly states that President's Council on Bioethics had condemned the study saying that "our memories make us who we are". They went on to explain that by re-writing our actual memories by the use of drugs would probably result in under a person's true uniqueness. They also state that such actions risk making shameful acts less terrible. As an example suppose a man is a pedophile and his act is basically whitewashed through the use of such a drug than he will feel no remorse for what he did. Without remorse the penal system fails both the individual and society as a whole. The constant thought of what they have done wrong is necessary for incarceration to be effective. This is like a second hurt to the child's family – first their child is harmed by the perpetrator and then the justice system fails to be properly served.
Most biology classes will unexpectedly state that our environment and genetic make-up determine who we are. If we take identical twins and place each one in an alternate environment they will extremely turn out completely different. Twin One may be housed in the finest of families, receive an excellent education and complimented with a refined outlook on life. Twin One would be said to be destine for greatness. On the other hand we have Twin Two who was abandoned in the ghetto and raised by a not so established family. He is taught from the time he could walk to swindle and steal. Most predictions for Twin Two are that he will never amount to anything of value. We see identical genetic siblings who are totally different as a result of their environment. The same could be said of their memories. Twin One has fond thoughts about his youthful years while Twin Two is soaked in regret and shame. What if both these 'memories are erased? Would they revert to being equal siblings? I do not think so since the memories are essentially a part of our development.
Our memories are echoed as a part of our conscious experience whereas my life experience would be completely different from yours or the boy down the street. Our life experiences remain a major defining characteristic of our individuality and of our brain architecture. Our being is defined by our conscious experience which in turn is identified by the things we have undergone in our past. It is highly possible that with the loss of ones memories one could also loss the ability to relate to our family and friends. Although the basic brain activities would still function properly and they could still walk, speak, or use their usual daily tools they are totally detached from who they once were.
Omitting ones memories is no small quest. As mentioned previously our memories have a means of reinforcing our identities, imaging our individual concepts of who we are, and in general, shaping us into the person we will be tomorrow. Memories tend to play an instrumental role in our lives. Even bad memories serve as a debilitating role in our existence. I envision complete personalities changing as a result of these types of experiments. Being a writer I could read devise an interesting twist to this with a plot whereas these pills were very effective in blocking out the fear instinct. As the experiment progressed a complete batch of these medications were found to be defective for some unknown reason and were placed in the trash which ended up at the county dump. As the pills were deposited in the dump they were consumed by the rats which are ever present in such a facility. Moving on we encounter rats which no longer have any fears and then the battle begins between the humans and the revolting rats. This is simply a fictional plot for a possible tale however who is to say that such an event could not take place with these drugs. Altering the fear responses of any living thing, human or animal will change the way they live and thus could potentially offset the balance of nature.
I read an article where victims tend to frame their experiences into specific strategies which creates an internal environment where healing can take place. The article consist of a series of interviews conducted with female rape victims. Evidence would support the idea that memory drugs would forestall the complete recovery process by altering their reality concept. Recovery is defined as a two phase process, the disruptive phase, and the reorganization phase. The acute or disruptive phase addresses the physical and social aspects relating to the victim's life. According to the emotional state of the victim a certain amount of time will be expected to lapse before passing through this stage of recovery and on onto the next. Although the victims in this experiment were essentially rape orientated it would appear that recovery must take place by itself and can not be accelerated with drugs or other mind altering schemes. Recover is a normal healing process that takes place in all humans as the body and emotions dictate.
A process known as psychological framing was referred by the author towards achieving a positive response for the victims. Psychological framing delimits a specific set of messages indicating certain acceptable messages. These frames include both exclusive and inclusive reconnections. These form the basis of true healing as opposed to sugar coating the situation in the victim's mind and it is allowed to achieve its recovery in a normal, accepted method.
I found it interesting during my studies that when a person is able to assign a name to their experience it provides a crucial key to both the person's recovery as well as to allow others to assist in this recovery process. This was especially true in the case of rape victims. This is sort of like calling a spade a spade. The old Greek idiom certain applies here, "to thine own self be true."