Traumatic Memory Suppression

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posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 03:00 AM
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Researchers are currently testing the drug propranolol, a non-selective beta-adrenergic receptor blocking agent currently used mostly for cardiovascular diseases, as a traumatic memory suppressant. The federal government has been impressed enough by a pilot study conducted by Dr. Roger Pitman, a Harvard University psychiatrist, to invest in further studies. While these findings have created enthusiasm among many, there are those who feel that all our memories are important to our sense of identity and that suppressing traumatic memories might make us less able to learn from experience.
 



www.breitbart.com
Dr. Roger Pitman, a Harvard University psychiatrist, did a pilot study to see whether it could prevent symptoms of PTSD. He gave 10 days of either the drug or dummy pills to accident and rape victims who came to the Massachusetts General Hospital emergency room.

In follow-up visits three months later, the patients listened to tapes describing their traumatic events as researchers measured their heart rates, palm sweating and forehead muscle tension.

The eight who had taken propranolol had fewer stress symptoms than the 14 who received dummy pills, but the differences in the frequency of symptoms were so small they might have occurred by chance _ a problem with such tiny experiments. Still, "this was the first study to show that PTSD could be prevented," McGaugh said, and enough to convince the federal government to fund a larger one that Pitman is doing now.



Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


We can easily understand why the federal government would be interested in this research. Reducing the effects of psychological trauma would be a huge boon to those whose lives are forever changed for the worse and treating those who have such symptoms costs us all when the treatment is lifelong.

However, there is a case to be made against giving everyone propranolol to suppress memories, if this effect is verified and is permanent, when only a small percentage actually develop long-term symptoms of stress. Researchers remind us that the memories are not erased, but only suppressed to such a degree that instead of reliving the experience, it is more like the person has only witnessed the event.

But, what happens if a rape victim's suppression of the rape memory makes her less willing to testify in court? Prosecutors might find that convicting offenders without testimony from the victim impossible in some cases.

What if the drug was used by law enforcement or governments to blunt the memories of torture victims? Would the use of such measures escalate when victims do not remember the anguish and therefore are less likely to provide meaningful details of the crimes?

I, for one, would welcome anything that would help trauma victims lead more normal and more productive lives. But likewise, I would hate to see medications limit our abilities to adapt sufficiently to our environment and to have the wherewithal to protest victimization and abuse. There is much to consider here.

Related News Links:
www.mentalhealth.com
www.neuropsychiatryreviews.com
www.harvardmagazine.com
news.nationalgeographic.com

Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion Threads:
"Marlboro Marine" faces New Challenge (moved from ATSNN)
VA to Review PTSD Claims (moved from ATSNN)
MSN article about PTSD and Abductees.
WAR: Emotionless Marine Look: The Private American War



[edit on 2006/1/15 by GradyPhilpott]

[edit on 25-7-2007 by asala]




posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 03:18 AM
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Lots of legal / ethical implications with this as well. Our thoughts and memories defines us. As do life events and experience both good and bad. Im not saying this does not have merit, but caution should be exersized before we have the next 'Ridalin" overprescription craze.



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 04:07 AM
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In addition to the reasons already stated above against the use of this "pill" for treating possible post-traumatic stress disorder, I also wonder about one other point. Isn't psychiatry used to uncover naturally suppressed trauma stress to heal a person's mind. Will this then make more work for psychiatrists in later years?



posted on Jan, 15 2006 @ 04:41 AM
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The hope would be, based on the information provided, that the pill would prevent such events involving the amygdala and thereby having the amygdala make such memories all the more intense by introducing adrenaline into the bloodstream. Such an action, if it can be proven to be effective and long term would, it is hoped, negate the necessity for long term therapeutic intervention. I don't believe that anyone is expecting that a little pill alone is going to suffice, but rather that the pill will make long term suffering and treatment a thing of the past.


The biological reason why we never forget significant experiences involves the amygdala, an almond-shaped portion of the temporal lobe. Highly emotional events stimulate the amygdala to release so-called stress hormones, such as adrenaline, into our hippocampus. These hormones strengthen the recollections, gruesome or lovely, of the events that prompted their release. In PTSD, graphic memories — frequently including flashbacks and nightmares — not only remain intense over time, but are self-perpetuating. Each time a sufferer relives the traumatic experiences, the amygdala re-releases stress hormones into the brain, and consequently reinforces already unwanted memories. But propranolol interferes with the amygdala's receptors and "takes it off-line," Pitman says. "It blocks the consolidation of memory."

harvardmagazine.com




[edit on 2006/1/15 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 05:50 AM
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Originally posted by Mahree
Isn't psychiatry used to uncover naturally suppressed trauma stress to heal a person's mind.


Nope. You're thinking of a clinical psychologist. And even then it depends on their flava of psychology.

Psychiatrists diagnose for mental conditions and then they prescribe the med for it.



posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 05:58 AM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
The hope would be, based on the information provided, that the pill would prevent such events involving the amygdala and thereby having the amygdala make such memories all the more intense by introducing adrenaline into the bloodstream. Such an action, if it can be proven to be effective and long term would, it is hoped, negate the necessity for long term therapeutic intervention. I don't believe that anyone is expecting that a little pill alone is going to suffice, but rather that the pill will make long term suffering and treatment a thing of the past.



The biological reason why we never forget significant experiences involves the amygdala, an almond-shaped portion of the temporal lobe....

Each time a sufferer relives the traumatic experiences, the amygdala re-releases stress hormones into the brain, and consequently reinforces already unwanted memories. But propranolol interferes with the amygdala's receptors and "takes it off-line," Pitman says. "It blocks the consolidation of memory."


Hmm..

I thought it targeted and deleted, or at least numbed, specific traumatic memories? This article suggests to me (the text I made bold) that propranolol would affect all memories, since it states the drug takes the amygdala "off-line" and "blocks the consolidation of memory". See what I mean?

I have some real bad memories I might want erased (very hesitant as I feel I might regret it) but I am concerned that this treatment would 'bleed over' into other memories.


[edit on 3-7-2007 by Cloak and Dagger]




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