Would you take a pill to erase bad memories?

Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind

This was the question I pondered today as I read about a drug which has been developed to erase painful memories. I can remember in the depths of my despair over my miscarriage actually saying to my husband, I wish there was something I could take right now to block out this pain I am feeling. At various times in my life when the pain of some trauma has threatened to overwhelm me, I have had that same thought. 

But think about it for a moment – isn’t our pain and suffering part of what makes us human? I know it is part of what makes me empathetic to the pain of others and willing to listen and help however I can. Without experiencing my own pain, I woul never be able to do that for others – how could I?

While undoubtedly it would be of benefit to those who suffer severe post traumatic stress and recurrent bad memories which prevent some from moving on with their lives, there are also serious ethical issues to be considered.

Dr Daniel Sokol, a lecturer in medical ethics at St George’s, University of London, said: ‘Removing bad memories is not like removing a wart or a mole. It will change our personal identity since who we are is linked to our memories.” While Dr Sokol concedes that iIt may perhaps be beneficial in some cases”, he also believes  “we must reflect on the knock-on effects that this will have on individuals, society and our sense of humanity.’

If you have seen the 2004  film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which starred Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, you will have seen the fictional characters use a technique to erase memories of each other when their relationship turned sour. My husband, the scientist (!)  loved it , but it just struck me as profoundly sad.

So, what do you think? Are our bad memories part of who we are? Do they serve a purpose in our lives and those of humanity? Let me know what you think.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sarah clarke
    Oct 04, 2009 @ 13:49:31

    what a great post – and very thought provoking. would i want to block out all the hurt and bad memories – yes – should I? No, i agree it is not in my best interests ultimately to do this


  2. Jane
    Oct 06, 2009 @ 09:45:58

    I can see how a person might like to take a pill to take away the pain, but I think sometimes painful life events are what makes a person. So no, I wouldn’t take a pill to erase painful memories.


  3. mkwewer
    Oct 06, 2009 @ 13:27:42

    I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t change one minute of my time with the boys. As bad as it hurts now that they are gone, I still have the time that they were here. I wouldn’t erased the 23 weeks that I had with them…


  4. JBBC
    Oct 06, 2009 @ 13:40:50

    Thank you so much for your beautiful comment (mkwewer) *hugs*


  5. traci
    Oct 07, 2009 @ 14:34:19

    no, bad and all as some memories are, i would not take a pill to earse memories – they are part of who i am


  6. larissadunne
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 08:11:50

    well you are an example and so are your commentators of those who have become more empathic through the memory of their sufferings!


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