Moms Columns & Blogs

Erasing Memories

I have an interest in most things that pertain to the biological functioning of the mind.  Please pardon me for exploring this interest rather than one of the typical Thanksgiving posts that would be expected this week. 

I believe it was last week that an article about the development of a drug that blocks a particular protein- the action of which would supposedly “erase” bad memories- popped up.  What I know about biology and psychology tells me that more likely the process removes the fear or other intense feelings about a memory, not actual recollection of the event, but nevertheless I thought this would make for an interesting blog post (in response to my MIL who has claimed that my blogs are too short of late).

Instead, when researching just now I realized that Hollywood (and that idiot Jim Carrey nonetheless) beat me to this theme of erasing bad memories in a film I’ve never seen and only vaguely heard of called The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  So I’m going to scratch most of what I had to say lest I publish something that comes back as public evidence that my original thoughts really have already been thought by the industry that brought us Dumb and Dumber. 

Here’s what I will say.  Many folks oppose this kind of thing because they believe that an individual is basically defined by their emotions and what they have experienced.  But lets face it, some memories could be erased (or at least have the pain associated with them removed) probably without causing harm. 

-Is it really necessary for the soldier to remember the trauma of the battlefield? 

-Are we defined by childhood abuse?  While many get over it, others spend the rest of their lives battling it.  Would a procedure to forget that trauma all together be bad?    

-Is it necessary to remember the pain or act of a spouse cheating if the decision has been made to stick with that spouse anyway? 

-Some of the most painful memories, however, like a tragic death of a loved one, obviously couldn’t be removed without leaving lingering questions about where that person is and having to relive the pain over and over.  And isn’t the pain of remembrance part of healing?

-If forgetting things that have happened is really a key to happiness, why is my experience with Alzheimer’s and dementia so tragic?

I guess I don’t have any answers, just more questions.  I am grateful that science has developed to the point that we can begin to pinpoint and change the mechanisms of memory.  But maybe, just maybe, some things should be left alone.  I don’t know.

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