The Forgetting Pill

The idea of a pill that could potentially erase memories is slightly mind-boggling to me even after reading this article. To have the ability to remove traumatizing events from our brains could be a godsend for those people suffering from such disorders as PTSD; however, it could also create some very significant ethical issues.

Medications and health care are expensive and I doubt this drug would be cheap or even covered by insurance. Therefore, the only people likely able to pay for this drug would be the wealthy. This drug could create a class of privileged individuals who do not remember their worst memories; people who are not able to buy the drug would be left to remember significant trauma. If there could be a way to provide this drug equitably I think that help with some of the ethical issues. Another problem that could arise is deciding who gets to administer the drug and what criteria there needs to be to receive it. I am sure there would be much argument over these aspects of the drug. Also, as the writer mentions, if this drug ended up in the wrong hands, it could be heavily abused.

The author talks about how if an individual in a car accident was physically injured, doctors would not hesitate to treat the physical damage but if the problem is emotional trauma, then only the symptoms are treated. I do think this happens today while it might not be the intent of doctors. It is much more difficult to treat a person’s mind than it is to treat their body. If someone breaks their arm, the healing process has a specific endpoint; however, when a person experiences a traumatic event, the healing process can take a very long time. It is difficult to know whether or not removing a traumatic memory is the best method to healing.

In the case of sexual abuse, it seems like this drug would certainly provide a lot of relief since the individual could forget the event and the trauma surrounding it. Although, some people feel they have grown as an individual from their abuse and would not want to lose that growth. To this, I would want to know if it was possible to erase the memory and also maintain the things learned from the experience. If not, I would be less likely to want to remove the memory. If yes, then I think I would be much more likely to have the memory erased. Also, if neither of these was possible it would be worthwhile to at least have some of the negative emotions minimized like they have for some people already.



2 responses to “The Forgetting Pill

  1. I agree! I think that’s one of the interesting points that she brought up in class, about whether your knowledge and growth gained from your experiences could still be maintained even after the memory itself was erased. I hadn’t considered that. I had considered the same dilemna that sometimes the worst and most painful experiences you have also lend you a lot of spiritual growth and a lot of knowledge, so maybe erasing memories wouldn’t be such a good idea–but I hadn’t considered the idea of what if that knowledge/growth could be maintained, and only the specific memory itself would be lost? In that case, it makes it a lot easier to rationalize the use of this medicine. But if not, it brings up a huge dilemna because we might lose a lot of significant knowledge/growth that has been gained through our painful experiences..Unfortunately there is no way to know, and I think that’s something that makes the idea of using this pill so complicated!

  2. I totally agree with you in regards to who would get the pill. I think this would cause a huge gap with people if the pill was only affordable to only those who were wealthy. Knowing that over time just as any drug, it will be passed down to the wrong people and be abused. I don’t think it would be a good idea to have this such pill. It scares me to to think of a pill that can erase a dramatic/emotional memory I’ve had. Like I stated in my post I think everything happens for a reason and to alter would cause many problems.

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