Giving a Voice to the Silence offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Schizo-Affective Disorder and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Would you use a pill to forget bad memories?

An 80mg capsule of PropranololImage via Wikipedia

There is a report that psychologists have developed a concoction that would prevent the brain from reliving a bad experience. This method, if successful, could be the answer for many when it comes to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Psychologists at the University of Amsterdam devised a test to see if the cycle of fear, how we feel when we relive an event, and if it could be interrupted. In their study, participants were shown pictures of spiders, then given a mild electrical shock to create a bad memory. When the pictures were shown again, ½ of the participants were given a placebo the others were given propranolol, a beta-blocker used in the treatment of heart disease. When the pictures were shown for a 3rd time, those who had taken the medication had a lower emotional response.

In the past psychologists have tried to modify the person’s response to a memory, while for some this may work – for many it would not. With the success of this type of medication treatment, those who suffer from PTSD or other emotional disorders can find the answer to making the images go away, so to speak.

Is there a down side to this? Some say this is actually erasing a persons fear response and may have unintentional consequences, such as confusion and ending up with a sense of dementia. While they may be extreme cases, the idea that memories can be erased will come with good and bad results.

For me, I’m not completely sure what I would do if given the chance to have my memories and fear erased. With a childhood of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, abandonment, fears and uncertainty of tomorrow, one would think I would love to forget and form a new life with better memories. And you would be right; however, if it was not for these memories would I be able to help others now? Would I be able to sit down and talk with someone who is hurting from a similar childhood and say, I’ve been there and they relax knowing they are not alone. Where would I be if those memories were taken from me?

I can help others because of my memories, for others they may survive only by erasing their memories. In the end we are all individuals, each person facing their fear in a different way. At least there are options available.

How much do you want to remember?

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