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Friday, March 03, 2006

Eternal Sunshine of the Memory-Dampened Mind

In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jim Carrey's character erases his memory to ease the pain of his breakup with Kate Winslet's character.  While memory erasure is still science fiction, you may be surprised to learn that we may already be able to phamaceutically dampen certain traumatic memories from the recent past.  Such drugs may help treat or prevent post-traumatic stress disorder, which costs the U.S. government over $4 billion per year in disability payments.  Here is the abstract of a paper I have drafted on the subject of "Therapeutic Forgetting":

Neuroscientists have made surprising advances in identifying drugs to dampen the emotional intensity of traumatic memories. Such drugs hold promise for those plagued by painful memories of terrorism, military conflict, assault, car accidents, and natural disasters. Yet some ethicists, including members of the President’s Council on Bioethics, claim that memory-dampening drugs may lead us to forget people and events that we are obligated to remember. They also fear that such drugs will reduce the value of eyewitness testimony and help criminals hide their tracks.

After describing the legal and ethical implications of memory dampening, I argue that the Council is unnecessarily alarmed. While memory is an essential component of personal identity and we do sometimes have obligations to remember, the Council’s concerns are founded on controversial premises that unjustifiably privilege our natural cognitive abilities.  Furthermore, while perhaps we ought sometimes restrict memory dampening, a general prohibition would be unjustified: We have a deeply personal interest in controlling our own minds that entitles us to a certain "freedom of memory."

Click here and scroll down to download the paper.

Posted by Adam Kolber on March 3, 2006 at 07:59 AM | Permalink


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Apologies for errors caused by my speech recognition disability device.

Posted by: Mary K. Day-Petrano | Mar 3, 2006 11:19:51 AM

"entty ausing"=entity causing.

And another point -- the reason so many non-mentally non-neurologically disabled people have a different viewpoint than these writers who speculate (wrongly) about how the affected aggrieved parties feel about a subject like this, is the rampant discrimination still existing in States' bar admission programs, excluding by the droves a critical mass of the mentally and neurologically disabled by becoming a part of the Bar and Bench.

Posted by: Mary K. Day-Petrano | Mar 3, 2006 11:16:10 AM

This sounds like another one of those papers by a non-mentally or non-neurogically disabled person who has no firsthand personal experience with psychotropic medication and its side effects, and therefore the writer cannot really know what he is talking about. It is the old proverbial law school lesson on not speaking out until one knows all the facts.

Many mental health medications have terrible side effects, and every day the pharmaceutical companies are coming out and admitting life threatening side effects exist for many of these medications they have been giving by the millions like sugar-candy.

For example, some SSRI reuptake inhibiters and ADHD medications cause life threatening mood alteration enormously incresing suicical ideations. Risperdal is life threatening to autistics, and there are no great tests for determinig who is an autistic resulting in many mis-diagnoses. Risperdal also functions as a chemical sterilization of women, causing women not to menstruate, their breasts to drip milk, and a huge weight gain (a person can balloon from 100 lbs to 300 lbs in a few months) bringing on diabetes and heart disease.

Most mental health drugs "dumb-down" a person's intelligence and ability to function at any kind of higher level in the workplace, and many have a severe sedation sleep effect (sometimes causing a person to sleep 16 hours a day).

No one says PTSD is a cakewalk, but rather than stripping peope of their liberty and the freedom to control their own physical destiy (as we allow with cancer patients), how about (1) preventing PTSD events in the first place as often as possible, (2) providing a clear, strong, effective, and expeditious remedy (monetary) for the entty ausing the PTSD, and/or (3) adequate and appropriate medical care and disability benefits to prevent a recurrence of such PTSD sypmtoms from being triggered by a horrific, tortuous life at the hands of financial destitution.

And you can take this advice to the bank from a person who witnessed her mother self-immolate and suicide on her father's front lawn over a grandparent visitation lawsuit mishandled by a California State Court judge who the Commission on Judicial Performance eventually removed from the Bench.

Posted by: Mary K. Day-Petrano | Mar 3, 2006 11:10:04 AM

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