Is there a now a magic pill to help you forget a painful experience? Dutch researchers are testing the waters with beta blocking heart pills with the belief that these pills alter how we remember and react to difficult memories.
During the study, 60 people were given an unpleasant memory by combining photos of spiders with mild electric shocks to their wrists. A day later the group was split and half were given the pill, and half given a placebo. Both groups were shown the same spider pictures from the previous day and their shock and fear levels were monitored. The group that had the heart pills showed less fear than those given the placebo.
This research has, at its heart a variety of ethical issues. Altering the mind to forget certain experiences, be they traumatic or wonderful is something to be extremely cautious of. While it is a step forward in helping scientists and doctors to understand the mind more fully, is it something we really want to be medicating for? Trauma can be dealt with time, diligence and proper psychiatric care. Would you want to forget?