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Debate: The use of propranolol in dampening a person's memory

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Should we get to decide if our memory should be erased or should it be approved by a doctor?

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Scientists have recently found a way to alter the memory. They are not sure if what they are doing is blocking the memory or just, figuratively speaking, putting a fence around the problem. The drug that they are using for that is propranolol. Propranolol is a beta blocker drug that was invented in 1964 by James W. Black for heart attacks and high blood pressure. [1] Propranolol is an adrenaline blocker that also helps in the relief of headaches and migraines. [2] Propranolol works for PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by blocking the action of stress hormones that etch memories in the brain. Thus, to gives you more control for management, because as it is we have little to no control of our memories and when they are going to surface themselves. This drug is supposed to help people with PTSD, also known as post traumatic stress disorder. From the Washington Post, Rob Stein states that, "So far, only a handful of small studies have been conducted in people in the United States and France". It is becoming more popular because scientists want to help people over come traumatic experiences and feel that by erasing them they will be able to function better through out there every day lives. Scientists are taking the first tentative steps toward developing a treatment based on new insights as to why we as humans emotionally feel a particular way after charged events. These events could be as serious as a murder or as simple as a first kiss. Many people are concerned that by erasing these memories they would be erasing a little piece of that person. From the article "Is Every Memory worth Keeping?", Rebecca S. Dresser, who is a medical ethicist at Washington University in St. Louis, worked a lot with the research regarding the issue of the usage of propranolol. She states, "All of us can think of traumatic events in our lives that were horrible at the time but made us who we are. I'm not sure we'd want to wipe those memories out". Esquire magazine [3] has said that propranolol is openly questioning the significance of reality. To fully understand propranolol you must understand adrenaline. Try to remember an event in your live that was very dramatic such as a car accident or a severely stressful situation. These memories tend to be a lot more vivid in your mind then those other memories. You may remember facial expressions, weather, and what was going on around you. These vivid memories are a product of adrenaline. Adrenaline is what has made us remember these certain events in our lives. That's why the little day to day events are hard to remember, the lack of adrenaline going when they occur. Once a surplus of adrenaline is what helps us remember, it only makes sense that when you have an insufficient amount of adrenaline if makes you forget. This is exactly what the drug propranolol has been created to do. This drug is known not to erase memories but it makes them more abstract and in turn less painful for the person that has experienced a traumatic experience. In other words, scientists are finding that that the use of propranolol maybe only fading away the emotional effects of memories, but the not actually erasing the memory itself. Roger Pitman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, suggests that "...The original memory is indeed still there, deep inside the brain...". Pitman believes that the use of propranolol might lead to a basic shift in our understanding of remembering and forgetting, allowing us someday to twist and change the very character of what we do and do not recall. People justify the use of propranolol for memory relief by using the example of, why should a child that has watched his parents get murdered have to suffer from that pain of being able to constantly see that image of his parents. Why should this child have to keep feeling the excruciating pain when it is not necessary? As simple as this case seems the use of propranolol seems only reasonable on a case to case basses. Aside from propranolol being used as an escape from an uneventful past, there are questions regarding legal vs ethical issues. There is a book titled, "Therapeutic Forgetting: The Legal and Ethical Implications of Memory Dampening" by Adam J. Kolber. In 2001, President George Bush created "The Council" by executive order. He said," 'The Council' shall be guided by the need to articulate fully the complex and often competing moral positions on any given issue, rather than overriding concern to find consensus". In this case, the given issue would be 'Legal vs Ethical issues' of use of propranolol. After The Council explored the many issues in 2002 and 2003, there were many concerns raised. The Council found five specific problems that may come from memory dampening. They were, 1) That is may prevent us from truly coming to terms with trauma, 2) tamper with our identities, leading us to a false sense of happiness, 3) demean the genuineness of human life and experience, 4) encourage us to forget memories that we're obligated to keep, and 5) inure us to the pain of others. The use of propranolol has become a very complex issue. Learning from your past plays a huge role in the person that you become. People learn from their mistakes and the mistakes made by others. This is the process of growing and developing as a person. The newly discovered usage of an over the counter drug called propranolol can make traumatic memories “more abstract and less painful” (Esquire). This discovery raises a plethora of questions on ethics. But the most important question is: does erasing or dampening your memory change who you are as a person? If someone is not able to remember the events of their past how can they learn from it? Although propranolol cannot completely erase memories, it can lessen the vivacity of them so that the consumer does not have to remember whatever traumatic experience it was that they encountered. Instead of being kept awake at night by remembering events you want nothing more then to forget, you can take propranolol, prevent having those memories and continue going through life as if nothing had happened. For propranolol to work most effectively it must be taken very shortly after a traumatic event has occurred, within six hours to be specific. Since propranolol is still being experimented with, physicians have to ask participants if they would like to partake in the experiment to see how effective the drug really is. Unfortunately, most people eligible for the experiment that enter the emergency room are too distraught to comprehend what the experiment entails, let alone decide if they would like to participate in it. For those that decide to go ahead and be a guinea pig in the experiment, there is no certainty that propranolol will be able to decrease the sensitivity they have from their traumatic experience. Propranolol is supposed to only affect people that are prone to post-traumatic stress disorder, which “according to a recent, large-scale approximately [only] 7% of Americans are expected to develop [post-traumatic stress disorder] within their lifetimes” (Therapeutic Forgetting). At some point in everyone’s life, something happens that they want to forget. With a drug available that can diminish any memory, we have to ask ourselves if something this powerful is unethical: “Aren't our memories, both the good and the bad, the things that make us who we are? If we eliminate our troubling memories, or stop them from forming in the first place, are we disabling the mechanism through which people learn and grow and transform? Is a pain-free set of memories an impoverished one?” (Therapeutic Forgetting). Joseph E. LeDoux, a New York University memory researcher states, "We have no idea whether it's erasing memory or putting a fence around the memory. But from the point of view of the PTSD patient, it doesn't matter as long as the effects are gone." Propranolol could be the key necessary to unlock prisoners of post traumatic stress syndrome, however propranolol abuse could have a very harmful rippling effect. Bio-Ethicists are concerned that the use of propranolol could become too wide spread. While some need the drug to cope with PTSD or other crippling trauma cases, many would soon feel the urge to forget a harmful break up or an embarrassing drunken night. This could lead to generations of people erasing their problems rather than dealing with them, a very harmful side effect of a drug thats only purpose was to help those in need. Le Doux discusses the ethics of propranolol, "You always have the ability to misuse science, but this isn't going to be radical surgery on memory. All we'd like to do is help people have better control of memories they want or prevent intrusive memories from coming into their minds when they don't want them." James L. McGaugh of the University of California at Irvine said it like this; "Whatever is being learned much more strongly." McGaugh demonstrated that strong emotions--fear, love, hate, panic--trigger stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol, which activate a part of the brain called the amygdala, creating usually vivid, emotionally charged memories. "Any strong emotion will have that effect. It could be winning a Nobel Prize. It could be a very faint whisper in the ear, 'I love you', at the right time. "Propanolol is a drug that will hopefully counteract that. It will hopefully be able to help us forget those traumatic memories that would usually stick with us forever. You usually remember the details from the more intense moments in our lives far more vividly than less meaningful, more conventional episodes from everyday life. This is the product of adrenaline; the cerebral rush of adrenaline that accompanies intense circumstances burns those memories into your brain. The adrenaline is what makes us remember different events. Propranolol is based off of the reasoning that since a surplus of adrenaline makes us remember, then a deficit of adrenaline would help us forget. This drug has the potential to drastically change our society. If Propranolol was available tot he general public then it would have the potential to change the way we make every day decisions. If we have the option of just taking a pill and forgetting if we don't like what happened then we will not put as much thought into our decisions. And we may keep making the same bad decisions over and over because we don't remember doing the same thing before. A good thing the pill Propranolol could lead to pills that prevent or treat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in soldiers coping with the horrors of battle, torture victims recovering from brutalization, survivors who fled the World Trade Center on Sep. 11, 2001, and other victims of severe, psychologically devastating experiences. That would greatly improve our society. Although tinkering with memories treads into dangerous territory because memories are part of the very essence of a person's identity, as well as the crucial threads in the fabric of society that help humanity avoid the mistakes of the past. Scientists have recently discovered a new drug to help those who are struggling with post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The drug known as Propranalol helps to dampen and block the progression of stress hormones that make their way into your long -term memory. Propranalol is a non-selective Beta blocker mainly used in the treatment of hypertension. It is the first successful Beta Blocker. Those who wish to take the stressful reminders out of certain memories will be able to do so with the use of this new finding. When one experiences a traumatic event, every aspect of that day stays in our long -term memory much more than a normal day with nothing traumatic or out of the ordinary. But to what extent, and how much of our memory would really be gone for good? Experts say that further research and development of the drug could lead to pills that treat or prevent post traumatic stress disorder in soldiers coping with the horrors of battle, torture victims recovering from brutalization, survivors who fled the world trade centers on September eleventh, and other victims of severe, psychologically devastating experiences. (Is every memory with keeping). We can all find good and bad things about the use of Propranalol and forgetting things from our past, and Joseph E. LeDoux reminds us that, “You always have the ability to misuse science. But this isn’t going to be radical surgery on memory. All we’d like to do is help people have better control of memories they want or prevent intrusive memories from coming into their minds when they don’t want them. (Is every memory worth keeping). Many people have the wrong idea about Propranalol and the effects it will have. Instead of blotting out memory all together, what Propranalol will do is help people manage their memories so that they are able to tolerate them without feeling stressed or upset. But this isn’t enough for some. Other researchers are trying to go even further, by possibly deadening and even destroying and effects of old memories all together. This is where it really begins to become controversial with some peoples beliefs on what extent we should go to just to be able to forget something in our past. Will this crucial erasing of our memories ultimately change who we are and the outcome of our life? And if so, who is going to determine when enough is enough and when we should and should not be able to use such a powerful drug? So, you had a bad day? Ugh, you got fired. Or, maybe your gold fish died. It's alright. Just sit back turn on the television and pop a couple of "Propranolol" just like you did when your car got towed on your first date with Pat, and you'll be fine by the morning. And when I use the word "fine" I mean you will have dampened the negative memories made the day before. Just like a reset button. Propranolol could be used for just that. The drug works as it blocks the naturally occurring chemicals in the body that create memories when they interact with the brain's neurotransmitters i.e. adrenaline. The weaker the presence of adrenaline, the weaker the memories made. This blockade against the body's chemicals lessens the strength and possibly the entire formation of a memory. Scientists have developed and began implementation in testing this drug in numerous applications. Although, as stated by New York Times Author R. Heining, “We are a long way from the day when scientists might be able to zap specific memories right out of our heads, like a neurological neutron bomb” the current applications are defining, as they go, what Propranolol affects. In current research the most common application is to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients. PTSD patients that suffer from flashbacks, night terrors, or behavioral aftermath from traumatic events that continues to disrupt their day to day living are poised to receive the greatest benefits from memory dampening. But to what expense is taken to achieve these “benefits” even for extremely traumatized individuals? As stated by Author Kolber in his article Therapeutic Forgetting: The Legal and Ethical Implications of Memory Dampening, “The President’s Council on Bioethics (the “Council”) explored many of these issues in a series of hearings in 2002 and 2003.17 By and large, the Council was skeptical of the merits of memory dampening,18 raising concerns that memory dampening may: (1) prevent us from truly coming to terms with trauma, (2) tamper with our identities, leading us to a false sense of happiness, (3) demean the genuineness of human life and experience, (4) encourage us to forget memories that we are obligated to keep, and (5) inure us to the pain of others.” Number 5 is particularly interesting as a cumulative social repercussion that could escalate to a point of negligence in all activities we live out. A negative that could have end results with people living without concern; without accountability. How would your life change if you could erase all your bad memories? Would you be happier? Would you be better off without remembering your pain? Would you feel you've missed out on reality? Well, with the new drug propranolol, your bad memories can't be erased, but they can be dampened. What happens is “It (propranolol) inhibits the chemical rush that makes memories hyperconcrete. It doesn't erase memories, but it makes them more abstract and less painful. In theory, giving accident victims immediate doses of propranolol could dramatically change how lucidly they remember the horror of a specific experience.” (Chuck Klusterman. Esquire. 'Amnesia is Bliss') You would still remember the experience for the most part, but the feeling of the experience would be quite faint. The question is then raised, can it be taken to the next level so the memory can all together be taken away? Think of all the good that could be done. Victims of rape, sexual harassment, abuse, war and many other horrible experiences could finally be free of the pain some of them have felt for a lifetime and the grief and sorrow they may never get over. This new treatment could be a tremendous help to them and to many others in those situations. This could be a huge medical breakthrough to prevent post traumatic stress disorder. But isn't it said that we are made up of our experiences, and our past makes us who we are? If we erase our past, then who are we? We know life is good because we have had times when life was bad. If we erase the bad, then we take the bitter away from the sweet and sweet ceases to exist because we have nothing to compare it to. As well, do we not learn from our past experiences? What happens when we take the just the feeling away from a past experience? For example, we know fire burns because when you were little you touched it and you were burned. What if, for example, the burn hurt so badly that you chose to take propranolol, causing the memory of how it felt to be burned by fire to fade and be non-existent? The lesson would not be learned that fire burns you. Our past experiences make up our character and our personality, not just the good experiences, but the unbearable ones as well. So that brings us to the question: is it right to use propranolol to dampen a persons memory? Although, this may be a wonderful cure for some people, we have to see the other side of the coin as well, can it be taken too far and get out of hand. We know that researchers will not just stop with dampening a persons memory, they will continue to research and eventually maybe find a drug that could wipe your memory of past experiences. There has been at least one time in your life where you were talking to someone, and at the end of what they were saying they say “man I wish I could just erase that from my memory.” Or you hear of troops coming back from war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is caused by strong emotions, normally fear or panic but can also be effected by love or general hatred for something, trigger stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol creating vivid and emotionally charged memories. Now there is a way to help cope with the horrible memories, its call propranolol. What propranolol does is it blocks the action of these stress hormones that etch memories into the brain, which as a result, suggests that it might be able to prevent traumatic memories from being stored with the intensity in the first place. From an article in the Washington Post, “Is Every Memory Worth Keeping?” by Rob Stein, Kathleen Logue has been suffering with PTSD for years after she was carjacked and assaulted. After several years living in fear a second incident happened where a bike messenger knocked her onto the pavement in front of oncoming traffic. Logue hopped on the opportunity of helping her cope with these traumatic experiences. She was part of a study who took propranolol directly after a tragic incident to see what the effects would be in later months. As it turned out for Logue, the “[porpranolol] helped not bring back my earlier bout with post-traumatic stress and made it easier to cope with this new incident." There have been many issues with this new study. One of the key issues with this study is if it is morally all right to delete memories from the mind? What would stop people from using this drug for forgetting something like a bad date instead of the more serious treatments of PTSD? Skeptics say that memories are part of the very essence of a person’s identity and they help humanity avoid mistakes from the past. But when society asks a soldier to go through battle to protect our country, for instance, then society has a responsibility to help that soldier get through the aftermath of having seen the horrors of war. If we have the responsibility to treat veterans' physical wounds, don't we also have a responsibility to ease their psychic suffering?

How big is your life? That is neither a rhetorical nor impossible question. The answer is easy: Your life is as big as your memory.( Amnesia Is the New Bliss By Chuck Klosterman Esquirehttp://my.cuesta.edu/cp/grouptools/fileshare/7966/14997/AmnesiaIsNewBlissEsquire.pdf “All of us have done things in our lives we'd rather not have done, things that flood us with remorse or pain or embarrassment whenever we call them to mind. (The Quest to Forget: Drugs to Prevent Painful Memories By ROBIN MARANTZ HENIG New York Times Magazine April 4, 2004 http://my.cuesta.edu/cp/grouptools/fileshare/7966/14997/MemoryTraumaNYT.pdf ) Propranolol is the name of a drug in the midst of a controversy involving memory. “When stress hormones like adrenaline and norepinephrine are elevated, new memories are consolidated more firmly, which is what makes the recollection of emotionally charged events so vivid, so tenacious, so strong. Interfering with stress hormone levels by giving propranolol soon after the trauma, according to Pitman's hypothesis, could keep the destructive memories from taking hold.” “While true memory erasure is still the domain of science fiction, less dramatic means of dampening the strength of a memory may have already been developed. “Some experiments suggest that propranolol, an FDA-approved drug, can dull the emotional pain associated with the memory of an event when taken within six hours after the event occurs. Furthermore, by reducing the emotional intensity of a memory, propranolol may be capable of dampening its factual richness as well. Together, the research holds out the possibility that, under some circumstances, propranolol may dampen both emotional and factual components of memory. “ (Therapeutic Forgetting: The Legal and Ethical Implications of Memory Dampening Adam J. Kolber http://my.cuesta.edu/cp/grouptools/fileshare/7966/14997/TherapeuticForgetting.pdf)

Propranolol is among the worlds first beta-blockers, which means Beta blockers block the action of endogenous catecholamines (epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) in particular), on β-adrenergic receptors, part of the sympathetic nervous system which mediates the "fight or flight" response. If a skilled chemist were to be driven to try and change the chemical make up of the medicine to block specific memories, or to trigger specific thoughts or actions in an individual, what would happen if these pills/powder/liquid were to fall into the wrong hands?


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Does the use of Propanolol affect others?

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  • It is unethical to alter, erase, or dampen our memories because that is what makes us who we are no matter how damaged a person is as a result of their memories. If It were responsibly used, Propranolol could benefit many people and have a very positive effect on others because of it’s use.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health [4] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled. A person who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder suffers from a great many symptoms. It also affects heavily the relationships the person has with others. PTSD can make somebody hard to be with. Living with someone who is easily startled, has nightmares, and often avoids social situations can take a toll on the most caring family. Early research on PTSD has shown the harmful impact of PTSD on families. This research showed that Vietnam Veterans have more marital problems and family violence. Their partners have more distress. Their children have more behavior problems than do those of Veterans without PTSD. Veterans with the most severe symptoms had families with the worst functioning. Those suffering with PTSD have a hard time feeling emotions. They may feel detached from others. This can cause problems in personal relationships, and may even lead to behavior problems in their children. The numbing and avoidance that occurs with PTSD is linked with lower satisfaction in parenting. Family and friends commonly suffer through deppresion, anger, avoidance, etc… [“Effects of PTSD on Family” National Center for PTSD http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/effects-ptsd-family.asp] With the help of Propranolol, people who have experience traumatic car accidents, rape victims, war veterans, anyone and everyone who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, could be free of the life crippling experience it is. Families and friends of people suffering from PTSD could have normal relationships free of the struggles that come with trying to support someone with the disorder.

Proponents say it could lead to pills that prevent or treat PTSD in soldiers coping with the horrors of battle, torture victims recovering from brutalization, survivors who fled the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and other victims of severe, psychologically devastating experiences. "Some memories can be very disruptive. They come back to you when you don't want to have them -- in a daydream or nightmare or flashbacks -- and are usually accompanied by very painful emotions," said Roger K. Pitman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who is studying the approach. "This could relieve a lot of that suffering."

So far, the research has suggested only that the emotional effects of memories may be blunted, not that the memories themselves are erased. "I think it's an unfortunate misconception that it's blotting out memories," said Charles R. Marmar of the San Francisco Veterans

Affairs Medical Center, who helped conduct the French study. "What it does is help people manage the memories so they can tolerate them." (Is Every Memory Worth Keeping? Controversy Over Pills to Reduce Mental Trauma - By Rob Stein Washington Post Staff Writer. Tuesday, October 19, 2004[5]

A person crippled by memories is a diminished person; there is nothing ennobling about it. If we as a society decide it's better to keep people locked in their anguish because of some idealized view of what it means to be human, we might be revealing ourselves to be a society with a twisted notion of what being human really means. - (The Quest to Forget: Drugs to Prevent Painful Memories By ROBIN MARANTZ HENIG New York Times Magazine April 4, 2004[6]

Some people might think by dampening someones memory or taking part of it way would take away from the persons identity. But what if this memory was haunting the person, making it hard for them to sleep or to go outside because they keep getting flashbacks of that horrible event that unfolded. This is like what our enlisted men and women of the armed forces go through when they get back from their services. Many of them come back with the horrors of death and some come back worse with PTSD where they can’t sleep through the night without being woken up by nightmares. If anything these bad memories are dampening these men and women from being who they really are. For them, they just want their life to go back to normal to before these tragic events had happened. Propranolol is giving these people the opportunity to help get their old life back on track. If propranolol is taken after a tragic incident, studies show that there had been fewer physical symptoms of PTSD in the later months. In an article in the New York Times called “The Quest to Forget: Drugs to Prevent Painful Memories” by Robin Marantz Henig, it goes on to explain what happens with certain memories. “When stress hormones like adrenaline and norepinephrine are elevated, new memories are consolidated more firmly, which is what makes the recollection of emotionally charged events so vivid, so tenacious, so strong. If these memories are especially bad, they take hold most relentlessly, and a result can be the debilitating flashbacks of post-traumatic stress disorder.” There might be some bad memories that shape you and make you who you are, but there are also going memories with someone who has PTSD who instead of having memories that would shape them, would actually have memories that are breaking the person down and not benefiting them in any way. “Interfering with stress hormone levels by giving propranolol soon after the trauma, according to Pitman's hypothesis, could keep the destructive memories from taking hold” (Henig). Patients suffering from PTSD don’t only get the bad memory. According to Roger Pitman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, ‘‘these [Vietnam Vertrans] said that frequently when they remembered Vietnam, every detail came back to them—the way it smelled, the temperature, who they were with, what they heard” (Henig). During one of Pitman’s study, where they gave half PTSD patients propranolol and the other half a placebo, his study found that forty-three percent of the patients that had the placebo had increased stress meaning that they were still suffering from PTSD just as bad as before and no one in the propranolol group had increased stress. Meaning that coming from this study, propranolol helped PTSD patients not forget about the event, but made it so the event that caused them so much pain before, now did not cause them much as much pain as before.

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Many concerns arise when talking about the possibility of dampening memories, and many factors must be taken into consideration. For instance this quote by Adam J. Kolber: “…by reducing the emotional intensity of a memory, Propranolol may be capable of dampening its factual richness…” (Therapeutic Forgetting: The Legal and Ethical Implications of Memory Dampening Adam J. Kolber[7]

This could affect many people. As a society we rely on the judicial system to keep us safe. In certain cases, the difference between a criminal walking on the streets or putting them behind bars can largely be decided by the testimony of eyewitnesses. We rely on these people to testify as to what they remember they have seen. This helps keep many safe. Unfortunately, some victims of crimes are traumatized from the experience. If a victim were to take Propranolol, according to research, it would dampen the memory helping the person to be relieved of the trauma it has caused them. It also could take with it the “factual richness” of the memory that would be needed to keep the rest of society from being harmed in a similar way. If Propranolol were taken by an eyewitness, important aspects of the memory of the crime could be obliterated. It could be considered “tampering with evidence,” and keep the witness from being a viable source that they once were.

Our memories and experiences make up what we know as our reality. Ethically we couldn’t keep anyone from taking it so people would in a sense shrink their reality, which would affect their lives and others. Average people might behave differently if they had no fear of remorse or humiliation; instead of thinking, I will regret this in the morning, they might think, I better remember to make myself forget this in the morning.( Amnesia Is the New Bliss By Chuck Klosterman Esquire [8] Along the lines of shrinking reality, mistakes are largely how we learn. We have experiences that lead us to think, “I’m never doing that again.” With Propanolol dampening the mind, it could lead to mistakes being made over and over, affecting others over and over.

Distress, anxiety and sorrow [are] appropriate reflections of the fragility of human life. If scientists found a drug that could dissociate our personal histories from our recollections of our histories, this could jeopardize . . . our ability to confront, responsibly and with dignity, the imperfections and limits of our lives and those of others. (The Quest to Forget: Drugs to Prevent Painful Memories By ROBIN MARANTZ HENIG, New York Times Magazine April 4, 2004 [9]

So let's assume that propranolol was abused to the highest possible degree; let's assume people started taking propranolol to edit every arbitrary memory that contained any fraction of mental discomfort. Ideologically, this would almost certainly be bad for the health of the world. What if the government used this drug to intensify the brutality of warfare, knowing the long-term cost on soldiers could be chemically mitigated? Amnesia Is the New Bliss By Chuck Klosterman[10]

For certain people, the drug may not have the affect they are looking for. New courts cases would arise. Doctors would be sued for either not dampening the memories the patient had hoped for, or for dampening other memories that shouldn’t have been tampered with in the first place.

It’s not hard to imagine the dangers of tampering with the mind and important memories. Who will be the one to decide how far it can go, and who will be the one to stop it when it goes too far.

Is it healthy for people to erase memories just because they are bad memories? People are always striving to learn more and experience more. But if we start erasing our bad memories, how will we learn from our mistakes. Imagine going back to when you were younger. Back to the time of your first boyfriend or girlfriend and remembering what it was like to lose that first significant other. It hurts and after it happens you feel really bad and you don’t want to do anything, all you want to do is sit a pout about it. It’s not just the feeling of hurt, you feel helpless too. But over time you start to realize that it happened for a reason and that reason is what you are supposed to learn from. So you learn from the mistakes you made in that first relationship. But imagine if you had propranolol. Instead of dealing with the heartache of your first break up, you can just take propranolol and forget it ever happened. What would you learn from that? What would stop you from making the same mistake as before?

What would happen if you were a witness to a murder? The jury wants to put you on the stand to testify and you agree but the trial isn’t for another few months and you can’t deal with the nightmare you are getting from thinking about it so much. So you decide to take propranolol and now you can’t remember the murders. What happens when you get to the trial and tell the jury that you can’t remember what happened because you couldn’t deal with the nightmares? Now there is a murderer loose because you couldn’t testify.

Memories, whether they are good or bad, make us who we are. In the article “Amnesia Is the New Bliss” by Chuck Klosterman in the Esquire he uses this analogy, “When humankind was young, this process offered a sociobiological evolutionary advantage: If Early Man got especially freaked out by a tiger attack, that hardwiring taught him to stay out of tiger country.” But what if early man didn’t remember the tiger attack. Would he still wander into tiger country? Would society had come as far is it did if we didn’t remember the tiger attacks? Imagine living in a world where you no longer had to live in fear of humiliation or remorse. Instead of waking up in the morning and saying ‘man I really regret doing that last night’ now people would be saying ‘man I need to find the pills so I can forget what happened last night.’

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If you choose to rid yourself of your painful memories, will you continue to make the choices that put in motion the painful experience?

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Life is suffering. It is incomplete, messy, imperfect and unpredictable. And it is definitely not nice. If we erase the painful memories in our life, we will never learn anything from the great experiment of life and we are forever doomed to repeat the cycle of bad memories and poor choices. Scientists have found that when the brain is put through a situation that triggers a release of adrenaline, such as an encounter with a wild animal or a nasty fight with your significant other, the capacity to retain that specific memory is substantially increased. In the past, this probably helped our ancestors remember where predatory animals frequented so they could avoid those places, or any other frightening circumstance that was burned into their memory for later use. Those who forgot where tiger country was, well, let’s just say they were eliminated from the gene pool. Had our ancestors had the technology to erase those memories that had probably caused them many a sleepless night and much anxiety, they probably would have erased it, reshaping who we are as a people. Or maybe we wouldn’t be here at all. Most of your worst memories are probably times when adrenaline was released into your body, scarring them into your memory forever. However painful your bad memories seem, they are the ones that define you, they dictate what path you will take, and what choices you will make. Your bad memories are the ones you will never forget; they are the ones that make you who you are, even if that memories only purpose is to show you who you don’t want to be. The suicidal gay, Frank from the movie Little Miss Sunshine best articulates this idea.

Do you know who Marcel Proust is? French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he's also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh... he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, Those were the best years of his life, 'cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn't learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you're 18... Ah, think of the suffering you're gonna miss. I mean high school? High school-those are your prime suffering years. You don't get better suffering than that.

"Little Miss Sunshine (2006) - Memorable Quotes." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 08 Nov. 2010. ][11]

Schorn, Daniel. "A Pill To Forget? - 60 Minutes - CBS News." Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News - CBS News. 26 Nov. 2006. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.[12].

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Assuming that your choices are what made your painful memories and not some uncontrollable event totally outside of your control (9/11, natural disaster, etc) your memory can be modified but you can still retain the power of hindsight and exercise good choices. Let’s say you are a war veteran back from Iraq, you want to go back to normal civilian life but your adrenaline soaked memories of combat haunt you all the time. You are driving in traffic and can’t help but worrying about whether that piece of trash on the side of the road is an IED or a passing pedestrian has explosives strapped to themselves. You panic. Vivid memories of your buddies getting blown up play over and over in your head. You are paralyzed by fear and anxiety, not able to let go of these painful memories. Unlike our ancestors, we don’t have to remember all of our painful memories to survive. With the help of modern technology, we don’t have to always be looking out for the predator in the bush. In fact, if the soldier can take his mind off of always looking for the predator in the bushes (i.e. paralyzing fear associated with painful memory) then he can focus our energy into more productive outlets. With memory modification, this process can be facilitated without years worth of therapy. The soldier can let go of his debilitating fear and loathing and move on with their life. The soldier can move forward because he is not disturbed by his painful memories

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Can we learn from our past if we do not remember it?

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There are some experiences in our lives that we would rather not remember, but a lot of times we recognize that we learned something from the hardship. But what about the terrifying experience that we learn nothing from but can't forget. For example, what a can an innocent young woman learn from being raped? What can a child learn from seeing their parents killed? These are just two examples of situations that a person may be better off forgetting. All these kinds of experiences can do is haunt you and cause psychological torment and even physical pain. If there is a lesson to be learned from an experience like that, then there has to be a less harmful life threatening way to learn it. We look at the case of Kathleen Logue, who was waiting at a traffic light when two men smashed her car's side window, pointed a gun at her head and ordered her to drive. For hours, Logue fought off her attackers' attempts to rape her, and finally she escaped. But for years afterward, she was tormented by memories of that terrifying day... years later, after a speeding bicycle messenger knocked the Boston paralegal onto the pavement in front of oncoming traffic, Logue jumped at a chance to try something that might prevent her from being haunted by her latest ordeal. "I didn't want to suffer years and years of cold sweats and nightmares and not being able to function again," Logue said. "I was prone to it because I had suffered post-traumatic stress from being carjacked. I didn't want to go through that again." What could Logue learn from her horrible experience? In my opinion, not too much. Logue volunteered for an experiment testing propranolol. Her response to the result was simple "I really think it helped," said Logue. "It helped not bring back my earlier bout with post-traumatic stress and made it easier to cope with this new incident. I look both ways before I cross a one-way street now, but I'm not in a panic." Rob Stein. Washington Post.com. Is Every Memory Worth Keeping? It is experiences like these that make propranolol a miracle drug. We cannot take the option of a miracle away from a suffering victim like Kathleen Logue. As well, propranolol does not erase the memory, it only dampens the pain that comes with the experience. We would still remember what happened, we just wouldn't feel it. So, maybe we could still learn from the experience just not feel the pain that goes along with it. Wouldn't that be the ideal situation anyways, to learn life lessons without the pain and suffering that go along with it.

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Con

When a child burns his hand on the stove he learns that fire is hot and he should not touch it or he will feel pain. This lesson will stick with him for life just from the one experience of burning his hand. What happens though if we dampened the memory of the pain he felt so he remembers touching the stove, but he doesn’t remember the burning pain that went along with it? The lesson to not touch a hot stove would never be learned. He would undoubtedly touch that hot stove again and burn his hand again. If we erase or even just dampen what we felt during a specific experience we may never learn what we should have learned. It is the feeling that makes us remember things. James McGaugh of the University of California at Irvine said, “Whatever is being learned at the time of emotional arousal is learned much more strongly." Rob Stein. WashingtonPost.com. Is Every Memory Worth Keeping? It is the emotions we feel at the time of a memory that makes us remember it. If we take the emotion away, what happens to everything that was attached to it? As we go through traumatic experiences of course we don’t enjoy the pain we feel, however it is after the hardship that we realize we learned from it. As we go through it though, all we want is for it to be removed and that is because we are just thinking about the present. If we could see the end from the beginning we just may choose to change our mind and endure the hardships we face. "All of us can think of traumatic events in our lives that were horrible at the time but made us who we are. I'm not sure we'd want to wipe those memories out," said Rebecca S. Dresser, a medical ethicist at Washington University in St. Louis who serves on the President's Council on Bioethics, which condemned the research last year. "We don't have an omniscient view of what's best for the world." Is Every Memory Worth Keeping? 2 We do not have a view of the big picture. A lot of times our hardships are what build us up and make us stronger. We cannot take those away. How can we pass our experiences and our knowledge onto our children if we don’t remember it accurately? If we were to delete every bad feeling with every bad memory we would be like robots, knowing how to do things, but not knowing how it will feel. In our society we view older people to be wiser because of all they have learned from their experiences in life. We often rely on their counsel and their advice to guide us and help us make decisions. If everyone just took propranolol after every bad experience, who would we turn to for this wisdom? Surely, their advice would be useless because they have no emotion attached to their experience which would mean they are just spitting out information, not advising on what would be best. You mine as well ask a computer what to do. We are a sum of all our experiences. Dampening the emotions that are attached to each experience would take away from that.

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By erasing harmful memories, are we hindering our ability to cope with life's problems?

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Recently I had the privilege of speaking with an enlisted soldier in the US Army Reserve. At the risk of releasing undesired personal information, he will remain nameless. I was talking with him about the war and listening to various stories regarding his time in the service and time spent over-seas, when I realized he would be the perfect person to help shed some light on the topic of traumatic memory removal through the use of propranalolol . I asked him whether or not he would support research necessary to target harmful or traumatic memories and remove them from the patient’s psyche. Without hesitation he answered yes. “Anything to help me sleep through the night without waking up screaming. I’m awoken every night by the nightmare that is the images I was exposed to over there. Killing isn’t cool or badass, it’s terrible. No one should have to go through that,” he uttered, bearing a haunted, blank stare. Until I spoke with this man I had primarily only been able to see the negative outcomes of traumatic memory removal, however I now began to see the positive effects of this controversial issue. While some contend that people who have memories removed will have difficulty maintaining stable lives post-procedure, I could see now that the procedure could also inhibit some to lead stable and mentally healthy lives. However, I wondered if these people would be harming their ability to cope with life's problems if they were to have painful memories simply removed. If a soldier is struggling with the horrors of PTSD and he opts to have his traumatic memories numbed, is he shortcutting the natural human growing process? If a woman can't sleep through the night or leave the house alone without reliving the horrors of being raped, is she taking the easy way out by taking propranolol? Roger K. Pitman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School would answer absolutely not as he believes that, "Some memories can be very disruptive. They come back to you when you don't want to have them -- in a daydream or nightmare or flashbacks -- and are usually accompanied by very painful emotions. This could relieve a lot of that suffering." When applied to patients with horrible traumas such as PTSD or rape, memory dampening could be a wonderful tool in improving people's lives. These people would not be hindering their learning process, rather utilizing the drug to restore stability in their life. Christopher Grau of the Philosophy Department of Florida International University discusses the need, in some cases of memory removal, "...memory removal involves a sacrifice because of the conflict between the value we place on veracity and the value we place on contentment. Such a sacrifice involves a significant loss, but in certain circumstances this loss may be outweighed by the gain made in contentment, freedom, and psychic health. Our duty to remember can be trumped by the horribly debilitating effects of severe trauma and, in such cases, it would be quite cruel to deny relief to the person who is suffering."

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By erasing harmful memories, how are we teaching ourselves to learn and cope with difficult problems in our lives? The use of propranalol could be incredibly useful in some cases given the circumstances and stress levels of the patient, but there are many cases where propranolol could hinder a some one's ability to grow and mature. Hurtful periods in our lives can often be some of the most introspective learning opportunities we experience. These valuable moments in our lives could be at risk due to the abuse of propranolol. For example, imagine a seventeen year old boy is undergoing the heartache and torture of being dumped by his first girlfriend. This young man could very easily be feeling the lowest he's ever felt. He's losing sleep, having trouble eating and focusing, and the pain doesn't seem to be relieving. He decides to use propranolol to forget the whole ordeal ever happened and wakes up the next morning feeling on top of the world free from the seemingly endless heartache he would be enduring had he not taken the drug. It would appear that the propranolol drastically improved his life by creating an alternate reality in which he was free from his emotional prison, however the drug actually slowed his emotional growth and maturity by robbing him of the learning process that proceeds the pain of your first heart brake. He will enter his next relationship without the emotional and mental maturity that is garnered from the recovery of being dumped. Now his reaction of breaking up with his girlfriend at twenty four, will be that of a hormonal seventeen year old, and not that of an adult. David Magnus, co-director of Stanford University's Center for Biomedical Ethics discusses the dangers of propranolol abuse, "You can easily imagine a scenario of 'I was embarrassed at my boss's party last night, and I want to take something to forget it so I can have more confidence when I go into the office tomorrow,' It's not hard to imagine that it will end up being used much more broadly." People risk stunting their maturity's growth by using propranolol to cope with certain life problems. It would be like a high school student taking a drug to forget the horrors of his or her failing attempt in their calculus class. Sure, the year of flunked tests and tedious note taking would be wiped from their brain, but so would the lessons they learned by enduring such a grueling course. What we learn from our experiences, be them good or bad, and how we process and deal with them define who we are. Beyond our maturity and learning experiences being robbed through the use of propranolol, we risk losing our identity. Magnus also contends,"Our experiences and our memories in a lot of ways define us and define who we are. And so that's a scary step to go down. We should be very careful about going down a path that could lead to a serious alteration of the core essence of our identities."

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Is erasing a harmful memory worth losing the opportunity to learn from the experience?

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Dampening one’s memory can change the person that they are in their present state and their future in a positive way. At some point in everyone’s life they experience some sort of traumatic event that alters their life to some extent. Granted some experiences are worse they others, but it is human nature to wish that some memories could be erased from memory. Unfortunately, people cannot forget experiences on a whim or simply by just having the desire to forget. Take war veterans for example, soldiers have seen some of the most horrific and sorrowful images the world has experienced. Many soldiers come back from war with physical handicaps that they have to accept and learn to live with. Amputated limbs and broken bones are not pleasant or something that anyone wants to deal with, but those are all physical handicaps that can be dealt with. The metal handicaps are the ones that emotionally paralyze people. Imagine seeing someone you know, maybe even not very well, have their lives taken away from you in a split second, from something that is completely out of anyone’s control. There is no way for people to forget what they have seen or experienced until now. Propranolol offers a way for vivid and painful experiences like these to be dampened. Taken a few hours after a traumatic event has occurred, or even before something that could be traumatic, propranolol can provide relief and some sort of normality for those that have dealt with horrors that no one should have too. So “when society asks a soldier to go through battle to protect our country, for instance, then society has a responsibility to help that soldier get through the aftermath of having seen the horrors of war. If we have the responsibility to treat veterans' physical wounds, don't we also have a responsibility to ease their psychic suffering?” (http://MemoryTraumaNYT.pdf). It seems inhumane to not offer a drug that could change people’s lives so drastically for the better. Every experience is a learning experience, whether it is positive or negative. But when someone experiences something so tragic and impacting that they are not able to live without a constant reminder of that traumatic experience, can it start destroying them? Memories that are bad enough can mentally handicap people, and “a person crippled by memories is a diminished person; there is nothing ennobling about it. If we as a society decide it's better to keep people locked in their anguish because of some idealized view of what it means to be human, we might be revealing ourselves to be a society with a twisted notion of what being human really means” (http://MemoryTraumaNYT.pdf). Although this drug must me administered on a case by case basis, there are a million cases in which this drug could help people and change the person that they have become, from however many tragedies they have experienced, for the better.


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With a memory-altering drug like propranolol available, people have to ask themselves if this is a moral and healthy way to help people coping with their problems. Can dampening a memory change the person that they are or who they are to become? Dealing with tragedies and over coming them is part of life. It is logical to ask that if it is made possible to ask if protecting people from their greatest tragedies might make hinder them from reliving their happiest memories as well, “can we become numb to life's sharpest arrows without becoming numb to its greatest joys?” (http://MemoryTraumaNYT.pdf). The most difficult experiences in life are the ones that have the greatest impact on a person and how they deal with or overcome that is what defines them. To take away all the sorrow that is seen in a lifetime is to take away part of being human. An article published in the New York Times Magazine, discussing the issue of memory dampening, received an abundant amount of mixed feedback from readers. One mother responded to the article saying how she had watched both of her teenage son’s die after being struck by a patrol car, “I don’t mean to judge the way in which others should treat (or be treated for) their own personal tragedies. But for me, I needed to retain every detail of my memory, not only for the manslaughter trial that followed a year and a half later but also for my own well-being. . . . Although it’s painful to relive that night and its aftermath, doing so helps me feel that I am doing something positive with this tragedy. As for erasing the memories of that night, I would never want to take a chance that even an iota of all the positive memories of my wonderful sons would disappear along with the painful ones” (http://TherapeuticForgetting.pdf). If this mother had taken propranolol after her son’s accident, some of the agony she experiences may have been taken away. The memories of seeing her son’s lives being taken away might not be so vivid, but all the positive memories of her son’s might have been taken away as well. If the memory of her son’s deaths were taken away would she be able to truly celebrate their lives? Forgetting or protecting someone from harmful memories is not always the solution to a problem. Though dampening painful memories can help someone go through life not being held back by the hurt that is associated with those tragedies, those feelings of despair and helplessness are essential to human life and no life can be complete without facing them.

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Does erasing or dampening your memory change who you are as a person?

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The goal of memory alteration is to change people. Propranolol, if used, should be for the improvement of people’s lives. Summed up by Roger Pitman, Harvard professor of psychiatry, "Some memories can be very disruptive. They come back to you when you don't want to have them -- in a daydream or nightmare or flashbacks -- and are usually accompanied by very painful emotions…This could relieve a lot of that suffering" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A43210-2004Oct18?la). Of real concern is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, in soldiers returning from combat. These men and women, who volunteered to serve, are living in mental anguish because of their memories. As cited by Adam Kolber, “a person with PTSD will endure 20 years of active symptoms and will experience almost 1 day a week of work impairment, perhaps resulting in a $3 billion annual productivity loss in the United States.” (http://therapeuticforgetting.pdf/) On top of that, the attempted suicide rate among those with PTSD has been reported to be “as high as 19%” (http://therapeuticforgetting.pdf/). While using propranolol will not erase the memories, it will diminish their intensity and vividness (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A43210-2004Oct18?la). This is a big step forward for people who will never again live what we would call a normal life. Everyone has things in their life that they don’t want to remember, like times of personal embarrassment. These trivial instances don’t keep us in constant fear or make us dread facing a new day. Referring back to Roger Pitman, Working with veterans made it clear that post-traumatic stress disorder is different from just having bad memories…These men said that frequently when they remembered Vietnam, every detail came back to them—the way it smelled, the temperature, who they were with, what they heard (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A43210-2004Oct18?la). No one should be forced to continuously relive some of the worst moments of their life. But with every new development that science brings comes new responsibilities. Some have already worried about potential abuse of propranolol by people to ease the pain of everyday life. Stated by Chuck Klosterman, “The problem (of course) is that our society is traditionally terrible at judicious drug use. And while the application of propranolol almost always seems reasonable on a case-by-case basis, the idea of propranolol is significantly more complicated (http://www.esquire.com/features/chuck-klostermans-america/ESQ0407-APR_KLOSTERMAN). It is impossible to deny that Americans have a long and checkered past when it comes to substance use and abuse. Propranolol is not going to just be handed out to folks who had a bad day. This is a powerful substance that is still somewhat unknown in its long term effects. As a country though, we owe it to those who have served to try and ease their minds.

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The use of substances by people to alter memories is nothing new in society. Take for example last summer’s hit movie, “The Hangover”. The entire plot is based around a group of guys who cannot remember what they did after a night of heavy drinking and being dosed with Rohypnol, otherwise known as “roofies”. People have long known that excessive drinking on its own can cause individuals to “blackout” and fail to remember what they did after becoming intoxicated. This still does not stop people from consuming alcohol, especially during parties and celebrations. Who would argue that these people wanted to forget having a good time? Sometimes memory impairment is an unfortunate byproduct of using some substances. Take for example pot smokers. It has long been said that marijuana use will impair ones short term memory after ingestion. All of these substances mentioned contribute to what Adam Kolber refers to as, “anterograde amnesia”, or a failure to properly form new memories (http://therapeuticforgetting.pdf/). Did people who have gotten too drunk change themselves irreversibly? I would say no. Even if you should not have any recollection of what happened while intoxicated, you are still held accountable for whatever you may have done. As lawyers and police say,”Ignorance is no excuse”. If we continue to permit people to damage future memories, is there more harm in allowing these individuals to make their past more distant? The old saying goes that hind-sight is 20-20. Looking back, we would be much more certain of what we thought was valuable to us and thus worth keeping. As for changing a person, if you don’t know how you got there does it change where you are? No, it does not. Should an individual decide to take propranolol, they would do so under their own free will. As a free society we allow people to choose what they put into their mind. Individuals choose what they read, watch, where they go, with whom they associate with, date, and befriend and so on. If we let people put whatever they want into their heads, who are we to tell them what are they cannot take out of it. Summed up by Chuck Klosterman (http://www.esquire.com/features/chuck-klostermans-america/ESQ0407-APR_KLOSTERMAN): “We are already doing this all the time; our current means are just less effective. People get drunk in order not to care about things. People watch escapist movies to distract themselves from the stress of real life. Most significantly, we all distort the emotive meaning of our own past, usually without even trying; that's what nostalgia is. So let's assume that propranolol was abused to the highest possible degree; let's assume people started taking propranolol to edit every arbitrary memory that contained any fraction of mental discomfort. Ideologically, this would almost certainly be bad for the health of the world. But I still don't think it's something we could ethically stop people from doing.”

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Under what circumstances should Propranolol be used, and to what extent?

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For those who choose to go through with erasing their memory, they have to be prepared with the side effects. Although it seems like there could be many risks involved, there are also many benefits. According to Rob Stein, a writer for the Washington Post, the research has suggested only that the emotional effects of memories themselves are erased. If someone experiences something so traumatic that they feel the need to forget about it all together, they should be able to get their hands on new medicine that allows them to do so. Everyone should have the choice of what they want to remember or not, especially if a depressing or dramatic situation was forced upon them. This way they can go on being productive members of society, and not have to be weighed down by a bad memory. Although many are concerned that Propranalol could be abused ad used for things that are just “annoying” memories, it is still that persons memory and choice. Another person should not be able to decide whether or not someone else’s memory is worth erasing or not. A haunting memory to one person, may not be so haunting to the next. They were the only person who went through that event at the exact time, so they know best. And even if that memory or event that brings back that memory was not necessarily bad, if dampening it makes that person happier, then why not do it? If they are willing to pay for the procedure it may have, then go for it. Take war veterans as an example. If they have multiple episodes that they wish to get rid of, who are we to stop them from doing so. If you were not right along side them in battle, you have no idea what they went through, and so obviously a doctor should not be able to tell them that they can only have one procedure, or tell them that they cannot do it at all. They fought for our country, and in turn have the right to all of the health benefits that their country offers. Imagine if you are or a loved one was faced with a traumatic event, and were constantly haunted by this memory which made it hard for you to go on with your daily life. Kathleen Logue was innocently waiting at a traffic light when she was carjacked. Although she got away without being harmed, she was haunted with the memory of it for years and years to come. When she heard about this new drug out on the market, she jumped at the chance to get her hands on it and said, “I didn’t want to suffer years and years of cold sweats and nightmares and not being able to function again… I was prone to it because I had suffered post-traumatic stress from being carjacked. I didn’t want to go through that again.”

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Con

Although many people are able to see the good that can come from the use of a drug like Propranalol, It is something that can easily be abused. “Skeptics, however, argue that tinkering with memories are part of the very essence of a persons identity, as well as crucial threads in the fabric of society that help humanity avoid the mistakes of the past.” Erasing one or two major dramatic events that disable you from going on with your life in a normal way, may be a good thing, but your memories often shape who you are as a person. If we were allowed to have countless procedures done to erase a bad night, who knows how that will change or alter our worlds future. Just because you forget something doesn’t mean others will. Isn’t it good to remember mistakes you have made in the past so that you are able to learn from them and not repeat that mistake or get you back in the same position later on? So in order for a drug like Propranalol to do more good than harm, there needs to be a limit on how many times a person can use it, and for what reason. Otherwise, something as powerful as erasing your memory can easily get out of hand, and ultimately be abused if we do not keep a close watch on it. As Joseph E. LeDoux states, “You always have the ability to misuse science.” If Propranalol does become legal and easy for the everyday person to get a hold of, there should most definitely be rules and regulations regarding what you can us it for. “Some fear anything designed for those severely disabled by psychic damage will eventually end up being used far more casually to perhaps, forget a bad date or a lousy day at work. “ If everyone in our society knows that they are able to erase a bad night, or taunting memory, what will keep them concerned about their reputation and overall life? Just because you get your memory of an event erased, doesn’t mean it never happened. Propranalol could do a lot of good for those suffering side effects of a depressing event, that was out of their control, but for those just wanting to forget about an embarrassing night or stupid mistake, it should not be available to them. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions.

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Would people think less about there decisions they make because they can erase the memory of it later?

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For the utilitarian, the good and bad of memory removal hinges only on the consequences, and if we can ensure that those consequences are beneficial. If they are not beneficial then what would be the point of getting the memory removal in the first place. The whole idea behind getting rid of some of our memories is to make life better and/or easier to bear. Such a technology would be something to welcome rather than reject. [Grau, Christopher. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Morality of Memory." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (2006). Print.]The drug Propranolol doesn't erase memories, it makes them more abstract and less memorable/painful. And if accident victims were given immediate doses of Propranolol, it could dramatically change how lucidly they remember the horror of a specific experiences.[Klosterman, Chuck. "Amnesia Is the New Bliss." Enquire (). Web. 11 Nov. 2010. <http://www.esquire.com/features/chuck-klostermans-america/ESQ0407-APR_KLOSTERMAN>.] For example, would Kathleen have been better off; "if she had been able to wipe out the memory of the attack rather than spending months seeing a psychologist and avoiding the intersection where the carjacking occurred?" "If you can erase the agony that people like Kathleen suffer by dimming the memory of their gruesome experiences, why wouldn't you?" We all have done things in our lives that we would rather not have done, things that fill us with regret or pain or embarrassment whenever we happen to remember them. And according to Pitman's hypothesis, if it is confirmed experimentally, might lead to a basic shift in our understanding of remembering and forgetting, allowing us someday to twist and change the very character of what we do and do not recall. Having the choice to dampen memories supports our interests in self-determination and in avoiding mental illness and upset, and, as noted, enables us to identify more strongly with memories that we decide to keep. If we have that ability to focus more on the good memories that we want our lives to be about and not on all of the mistakes that were made in the past if would help us become happier and more light hearted people that we are when we are focusing on the sad or embarrassing parts of our lives. Most of us are quite capable, sometimes for more capable than we would like, of forgetting the particulars. Where did you park your car at the train station this morning ? What’s another word for pretty? What year was the Constitution ratified? So many details seem out of reach, lost in a murky mental morass. The Propranolol just helps that process on selective memories that we would not usually be able to forget on our own. “When we have an embarrassing experience, we develop empathy for others who have a similar experience...” If we don't have to worry about remembering some things that happened in the past it will help us to be able to move past what happened and get on with our lives without being waited down with the past.

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We are a long way from the day when scientists might be able to zap specific memories right out of our heads, like a neurological neutron bomb, but even the current research in this area ought to make us stop and think.[Henig, Robin M. "The Quest to Forget: Drugs to Prevent Painful Memories." New York Time Magazine 4 Apr. 2004.] It could interfere with the consolidation of highly emotional positive memories as well as negative ones. Rebecca Dresser pointed out society has a stake in having its citizens retain their own painful, awkward memories as a check on our behavior. It is entirely possible that we become numb to its greatest joys. If the drug Propranolol was abused tot he highest possible degree; like if people started taking Propranolol to edit every arbitrary memory that contained any fraction of mental discomfort. The risk is that average people might behave differently if they had no fear of remorse or humiliation; instead of thinking, I will regret this in the morning , they might think, I better remember to make myself forget this in the morning. This would almost certainly be bad for the health of the world. There have been few things worse for society than the cultural evolution away from personal responsibility ; I have no doubt that the world would be better off if more people felt guiltier about more things. Another issue that comes up is the worry that in both cases we are achieving pleasure at the cost of the truth. Another disturbing issue about memory-removal procedures is that it is in fact a form of self-mutilation: In order to "maintain a tolerable condition" one uses oneself as a mere means and thus manipulates oneself as though one were an object rather than a person deserving of respect. Also, if scientists found a drug that could dissociate our personal history from our recollections of our histories, this could "jeopardize...our ability to confront, responsibly and with dignity, the imperfections and limits of our lives and those of others. "Would dulling our memory of terrible things make us too comfortable with the world, unmoved by suffering, wrong dong or cruelty?" Bioethics Council. Theo council also brought up the question; "Does not the experience of hard truths-of the unchosen, the inexplicable, the tragic-remind us that we can never be fully at home in the world, especially if we are to take seriously the reality of human evil?" Robert Nozick thinks that it matters to most of us, often in a rather deep way, that we be the authors of our lives and that our lives involve interacting with the world, and he thinks that the fact that most people would not choose to enter into such an experience machine demonstrates that they do value these other things.[Grau, Christopher. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Morality of Memory." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (2006). Print.] In the movie Eternal Sunshine the character Mary finds out that she has undergone the memory-removal procedure and decides that what Mierzwiak has done is horribly wrong. If we have he ability to just erase our bad memories then the decisions we make do not seem to have as serious consequences since we don't have to remember and live with them.

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Is Propranolol the best way to treat post traumatic stress disorder and do the other benefits of Propranolol make it a better choice?

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The other benefits of Propranolol are great and vast. They include helping heart attacks and bronchitis, glaucoma, cluster and tension headaches, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disorder, circulation problems, migraines and tremors. The fact that it's a beta blocker provides many uses for it, including selective memory loss with the correct dosage. So due to these proven helpful uses of Propranolol, the added benefit of selective memory loss could be quite useful, especially to someone with any of the above health issues. Also, the fact that it's a beta blocker is a good benefit and the reason it does work as a memory suppressant drug. So, why not prescribe it to someone when it has all these additional benefits.

Another reason why Propranolol is the best choice for memory dampening is the fact that besides the drug side effects there are no additional side effects for using Propranolol for selective memory loss. Some of the drugs side effects are fast, slow, or uneven heartbeats, feeling light-headed, fainting, feeling short of breath, swelling of your ankles or feet, fever, sore throat, and headaches, skin rash, nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and confusion. Nothing too out of the ordinary in beta blocker drugs.

Lastly, using Propranolol as a memory suppresant is more reliable then using tharapy or manyother forms of treatment for PTSD. The use of the drug is more reliable as compared to the use of a tharapist, where there can be many other factors that hinder treatment.

[13][14][15][16][17]

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Con

There are many alternatives to using Propranolol when fighting PTSD. Including: Cognitive Behavioral therapy: seeks to change people with PTSD by changing how they feel and act by changing the patterns of thinking and/or behavior responsible for negative emotions. It is the most common use for PTSD and also one with none to minimum negative effects. Most common within this is therapy sessions and especially exposure sessions. Exposure sessions are where they take the person with PTSD into a situation to recreate the trauma and help them deal whit the feelings and reactions that arise when put into a similar traumatic situation. Eye movement desensitization: Is shown to be the most effective treatment of PTSD. What it is tracking the eye when memories are being brought up then replace the negative memories with positive ones when the same eye patterns occur. Opiates: More specifically morphine. Morphine helps lower the intensity of the PTSD or prevents PTSD rather than rids it completely, however has been shown to help in many Navy Men and Marines suffering from PTSD. Glucocorticoids: are a Steroid that also has been shown to help with dealing with PTSD with many side effects including hyperglycemia, increased skin fragility,weight gain, negative calcium balance and osteoporosis, glaucoma as well as a huge risk of dependency and withdrawal complications.

So with these many alternatives, most of them being either drug free or in the case of opiates, a more natural drug, someone has better safer ways to dealing with PTSD that don't include as many health risks or introduce a chemically made formula into one's body.




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By having the opportunity to erase memories, will people's lives improve?

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  • Yes, one's life can improve from having the opportunity to erase memories in a couple of ways. As human beings, all of us have done things in our lives that we would rather not have done. Most of these memories fill us with embarrassment or pain whenever we think about them. On a more extreme level, scientists are working with patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They are defending and developing a new science that could quite possibly erase us of our awful memories. They have discovered that true post-traumatic stress can be difficult and does not tend to respond to most therapies. However, with this new science they are hoping that people will have the opportunity to go on with their life without thinking about the past that brings them down. For example, Kathleen Logue was a girl sitting at a red light when two men smashed her car’s side window and pointed a gun at her head. After finally escaping from an attempt of rape, Kathleen was terrified (Stein 2004). Years later when Kathleen encountered a speeding bicycle messenger that knocked over a Boston paralegal into oncoming traffic. After this event she jumped on the first opportunity that was offered to her to participate in this new science study to have a memory possibly “erased”. She responded, “ I didn’t want to suffer years and years of cold sweats and nightmares and not being able to function again. I was prone to it because I had suffered post-traumatic stress from being carjacked. I didn’t want to go through that again”. After analyzing Kathleen’s reasoning as to why she would volunteer for an experiment that could reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, it shows that people are willing to try anything that might work. For someone such as Kathleen, this product, propranolol, is seen as a saving escape from the horrors that occurred in his or her past. For scenarios that people go through on a more extreme emotional level, propranolol can be seen as the solution for a better, less-stressful life. So to wrap it up, there are quite a few reasons why having the opportunity to erase memories can improve someone’s life. By erasing someone’s traumatic memory, they can go on with their life and potentially never remember it again.
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Con

  • Having the ability to erase memories will not improve people’s lives. It will only make them worse. It is a common and known theory that human beings learn from their mistakes. Usually what follows from a mistake is a consequence. Therefore, the consequence makes us realize not to do it again. In a sense, mistakes make us who we are today. If we had the ability to erase our terrible memories, what would stop us from doing it again? The President’s Council on Bioethics issued a report called "Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness”. This report dealt with the possibility of therapeutic forgetting. In the report they said, “Changing the content of our memories or altering their emotional tonalities, however desirable to alleviate guilty or painful consciousness, could subtly reshape who we are. If Scientists found a drug that could dissociate out personal histories from our recollections of our histories, this could jeopardize our ability to confront, responsibly and with dignity, the imperfections and limits of out lives and those of others.” As mentioned by The Council, getting rid of memories could change the way we are suppose to grow and develop as human beings. The transformation from a child to a teen to an adult would be affected if we never learned from the past. You make mistakes all throughout your life. However, the mistakes are what will make you wiser. When it comes to memories, people usually want more of it, not less. If you can improve your memory, you can become smarter, perform better in school, and stay sharp far into old age. Another thing to pay attention to is what if something goes wrong with the process of ridding your memory? What if it fades a good memory by accident? Taking the risk to potentially erase a memory could very likely make one’s life worse instead of improving it. Already people have remarkably opposing intuitions about memory dampening. In an article found in New York Times Magazine, one mother wrote a letter to the editor about how she watched both of her teenage sons die in a car accident. She said in the letter, “I needed to retain every detail of my memory, not only for the manslaughter trial that followed a year and half later but also for my own well-being….Although it’s painful to relive that night and its aftermath, doing so helps me feel that I am doing something positive with this tragedy. As for erasing memories of that night, I would never want to take that chance that even an iota of all the positive memories of my wonderful sons would disappear along with the painful ones”. In conclusion, although it would be nice to forget those embarrassing, stressful, or painful memories in the back of our minds, they are what make us who we are today and if we were to erase all of them then we would lose a sense of our identities. The world would be a false perception of what is “perfection”.


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Would memory dampening lessen a person's/society's personal/collective accountability?

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We know have the potential ability to lessen the horrors for PTSD patients by offering Propranolol that causes the weakening of those traumatic memories. A breath of relief for countless people that are living compromised lives due to their traumatic pasts. Propranolol, when prescribed by a doctor for dehabilitating conditions, can be very affective in the treatment and rehabilitation of PTSD. This relief as mentioned in the Washington Post article by Rob Stein “Is Every Memory Worth Keeping?” could benefit “soldiers coping with the horrors of battle, torture victims recovering from brutalization, survivors who fled the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and other victims of severe, psychologically devastating experiences.” Do these victims deserve to suffer? Harvard Medical School Psychiatry professor, Roger K. Pitman states, "Some memories can be very disruptive. They come back to you when you don't want to have them -- in a daydream or nightmare or flashbacks -- and are usually accompanied by very painful emotions. This [Propranolol] could relieve a lot of that suffering." Propranolol offers help to once held captive survivors of past trauma. A possible solution that was not previously available. Doctor’s deciding the applications best suited for treatment are given the power to offer Propranolol as a treatment for those who need it, not just those who had a “bad-day”. A monitored and Doctor administrated Propranolol use to dehabilitated patients indeed have great potential amount of benefit to gain. The ability to resume life without the repetitive mental reoccurrence of a horrific past is the answer thousands of suffering victims need to have. Take Kathleen Logue. She suffered a traumatic carjacking by two assailants who then kidnapped her and held her hostage for four hours while making attempts to rape her. A few years later she was knocked into traffic by a bicyclist. "I didn't want to suffer years and years of cold sweats and nightmares and not being able to function again…I was prone to it because I had suffered post-traumatic stress from being carjacked. I didn't want to go through that again." She had gone through the experience of PTSD from her carjacking and didn’t want to go through the pain and suffering that could follow the more recent event. She volunteered for a Propranolol study to test the effects on PTSD shortly after an incident takes place. So, should she deserve to go through the suffering she has already experienced? She could be treated by Propranolol and have perhaps little significance impended on her life by the traumatic event. Author Adam Kolber states in his article Therapeutic Forgetting: The Legal and Ethical Implications of Memory Dampening, “Some experiments suggest that Propranolol, an FDA-approved drug, can dull the emotional pain associated with the memory of an event when taken within six hours after the event occurs. Furthermore, by reducing the emotional intensity of a memory, Propranolol may be capable of dampening its factual richness as well.” The FDA testing thus, states that both factual memory as well as the emotions tied to it are lessened with Propranolol usage. This poses captivating medical help for PTSD victims. Medical help that on an individual basis can serve to help people in extenuating circumstances that cannot cope with their PTSD with other methods available. If only offered through a Doctor’s express consent the use would be limited like most other powerful prescription drugs. But, in these Doctor’s approved patients the results could be remarkably successful in the future treatment surrounding PTSD.

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Con

You're probably thinking, "Wow, memory dampening could have a lot of potentially helpful uses". If you are having this idea flowing through your mind, hold the phone. Imagine this substance used for everyday uses as mentioned above. Now imagine all of the normal everyday disappointments you face, and then erase them. Sounds peachy, right? How about the question of what are you left with? What about the lessons learned from these exercises in life? Where would their place be? Would they even have a place? Without the ability to experience present negatives in life their imposing future gains through learning simply wouldn't come to be...at all. How about as a culture? If this trickled to the mainstream a possible loss of accountability could arise negating all subjectively negative experiences to our own vast hindrance. The President's Council on Bioethics in a 2003 study (Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness) stated, "By 'rewriting' memories pharmacologically we might succeed in easing real suffering at the risk of falsifying our perception of the world and undermining our true identity." Now, I contest that this underwriting would too hold true for large societal groups as well. According to Klosterman in his article "Amnesia Is the New Bliss" he too states, "...if people's personalities are simply the aggregation of their realities (and if reality is just an aggregation of memories), it can be argued that propranolol is a drug that makes people's lives artificially smaller." This assertion by Klosterman further brings into question the true weight a drug this powerful has. The lack of answers for who would decide how to control or dispense the drug and to whom makes the judgement call of who will benefit or not should sit uneasy in everyone’s mind. Washington Post Staff Writer asked the question in his article "Is Every Memory Worth Keeping? Controversy Over Pills to Reduce Mental Trauma", "...Would the community as a whole -- would the human race -- be served by such a mass numbing of this terrible but indispensable memory?" It seems one of the few clear answers surrounding the use of Propranolol is that a mass numbing of memory could have devastatingly harmful social repercussions. Widespread availability and use of Propranolol could lessen the traumas that shape our very existence. It would be a short sighted and embarrassingly irresponsible turn for any society if Propranolol was adopted as a simple "over-the-counter" bad day cure-all. Medical ethicist, Rebecca S. Dresser, at Washington University in St. Louis asserts, "All of us can think of traumatic events in our lives that were horrible at the time but made us who we are. I'm not sure we'd want to wipe those memories out," she then continues, "We don't have an omniscient view of what's best for the world." As Dresser stated that perhaps at first glance some may seek refuge in numbing a painful event they have had in their life, but these events both good or bad create us not only as individuals but collectively as a people.

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Could the removal of a memory via propranolol possibly effect other past memories, related to the initial memory or not, or the building of new ones?

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Pro

The highly controversial drug propranolol raises many questions to skeptics and supporters alike. Many argue that the use of propranolol not only dampens memories, but also who we are as a person. Put quite clearly, "tinkering with memories treads into dangerous territory because memories are part of the very essence of a person's identity, as well as crucial threads in the fabric of society that help humanity avoid the mistakes of the past" (http://therapeuticforgetting.pdf/). However, under extreme medical caution, and on a case-by-case basis, I believe propranolol could be used to do some good.

In many case studies, the drug was shown to effectively reduce the impact of a traumatic memory for people with post traumatic stress disorders. With this fact out on the table however, a compromise must be made for those who use the drug. Users of the drug trade the dampening of the painful memory for the real life experience they had, and in dampening that memory the experience becomes fruitless and pointless, almost as if the incident just never happened. Now we must raise and probe the question: Can the use of propranolol erase multiple traumatic memories or multiple memories that add up to a whole on the traumatic front? Could a woman who was stuck in a dead-end marriage where she was beaten multiple times use propranolol to effectively dampen all those memories as a whole? It would seem to us that the occurrence of her being beaten would be somewhat episodic and repetitive in nature, but who would we be to say that each time she was beaten didn't have a very specific consequence to her psyche. I do not think it would be to far fetched to speculate that the use of propranolol could help dampen the memories as a whole, as the memories of being beaten may have shared many similarities. In the advent that they do not share many similarities, she would then have to address each isolated incident one at a time. This is not to say that she would forget the horrible marriage in its entirety, and she would most likely not lose the memories of being beaten either, but it would be the unbearable emotions tied to the incidents that would be hampered. One could argue that forgetting these bad experience could set her up for yet another failed marriage or relationship. On an individual basis, that would be something she would have to cope with personally. In this case I do not believe she would be imposing on anybody else by forgetting these truly personal experiences. It is for these kinds of purposes that propranolol could have truly significant positive impacts.

Putting aside America's love for abusing prescription medication, like taking propranolol to help dull a lousy day for example, propranolol could be used for legitimate instances. The drug could help soldiers forget the turmoil of battles, help victims of a bank robbery forget their masked assailant, help rape victims forget their violent intrusion. All in all the drug just helps to forget. Depending on how this is looked at, there are several different perspectives, but from the perspectives of people such as these, the drug poses a hope to overcome the obstacles that these people feel like they cannot overcome on their own.

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Con

Propranolol in essence, is a drug used for dulling a certain aspect of ones life. Like many other drugs , it certainly has a potential for abuse, and possibly more so than other prescription drugs. Aside from that however is the main focus of this argument, which is to put it plainly, is that propranolol is a mind dampening drug. It helps to erase the painful or frightening components of our memories. Relevant however is the reality that, quoted in an article that appeared in the Washington Post, "Memories in a lot of ways define us and define who we are.(Rob Stein. Washington Post.com. Is Every Memory Worth Keeping?)" Our memories are put in place for a reason by natural functions of our bodies. We remember things because they were significant points in time. In a traumatic event, adrenaline is released into the bloodstream, and it is this solidifies the event in our memories. As a key to survival our bodies do this so that we learn from the experiences we have. To be eased of the pain from an unwanted memory would mean that we would be sacrificing an important learning experience for the removal of what has become a part of you. One can not also fail to acknowledge the problem of undermining important functioning of our society by dampening memory. Memories must be sustained in the advent of a criminal court case, or any case for that matter. Attempting to isolate memories and then dampen them using propranolol also runs the risk of dampening other related memories. Take for example a man who is about to leave his office to head home, when he is struck by a car in the road. Let’s give this crash test dummy a name. Tom is leaving his office when he receives a call from his girlfriend of three years. She proposes to him over the phone, and he rushes off in excitement in mid sentence when he is struck trying to cross over to the parking lot where his vehicle was. He is severely injured, but more permanently scarring for him are the recurring nightmares of the incident and the stress the whole situation caused him and his girlfriend. He decides to numb his pain with the aid of propranolol, and it works. He slowly remembers the details of the incident and becomes rather unconcerned with them. In the process of doing this, Tom dampens his appreciation for the important moment of his girlfriends proposal. He no longer can relate to his future wife or others the significance of their decision to spend the rest of their lives together. Tom traded his memories for relief from a reality that became all too dark for him. At the result of dampening one aspect of the event, he also dampened other events that were related only by proximity of time. It is these reasons, at the exception of certain extreme cases, that propranolol should not be used without well warranted caution.

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After taking propranolol what are the effects on other people?

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Pro

After doing the procedure your memory of that person is either gone completely or dampened enough to dull the emotional pain. You can then go on living your life without fear. Say for example you were a rape victim, and after the traumatic event you fell into depression and you were starting to let your family down and fail as a wife and mother, the pill would be a good thing so that you could get your life back and not let that memory hold you back. If something traumatic happens to more than one person, it would be better if everyone agreed to get the procedure done and not just one person. If only one person does it then it would not only be selfish but everyone else who was involved would be having a hard time dealing with the issue while the one person goes on with their life unaffected. On the other hand if everyone agreed upon doing the drug then they could all move on with their lives and be happy together and it would seem as though that traumatic memory never even existed. The pill would be beneficial to soldiers who have fought in war and/or who might have been victims of torture. When these men and women return home they are more than likely to have horrifying memories and flashbacks about the terrible events they have endured. This could lead to many different downfalls such as post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism or drugs. Behavior like this does not only affect them but the people around them such as friends and family. If they took the pill then those horrific memories would be suppressed and eliminated and they could go on with their lives and be happy and the people around them could do the same. One bad experience should not determine the rest of your life. If you have a passion for something such as some sort of sport and one time you got injured pretty badly, once you recover you should be able to get back out there and do what you love to do. In sports your team is counting on you and if you let en even such as getting hurt keep you from playing the game than you are letting your team down. If by taking the pill can help you get over your injury and the terrible memories that come along with it then you should take it. If sports are you life and the reason that you get out of bed in the morning then taking the pill would be a good idea. It would help you get back out there and keep doing what it is that you have a passion for. Propranolol would be something positive for a young child who has experienced something traumatic. Such as a child watching their parents get murdered (Henig). Children are still developing and if something bad happened either to them personally or they witness something it could affect the rest of their life. The pill would help rid them of the horrible memory and they could live the rest of their life happy and healthy. Parents would have less of a difficult time dealing with a child who has taken propranolol and has the potential of a normal childhood rather than the child who did not take the pill and now might have a number of problems such as social and developmental problems.

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Con

If you are a victim or witness of a crime and you are supposed to testify it would be pretty hard to do so if you have eliminated that particular memory from your brain. In that case if your testimony was the determining factor then you would be letting a criminal go free because you were not strong enough to deal with the pain in order to put someone away for a crime. And because of that decision then that person could be able to repeat the crime and it could very well happen to you again because you do not even remember. It prevents us from coming to terms with the trauma that we have experienced therefore making us forget what has happened and the people involved. It is putting yourself back in danger because you will no longer know who to avoid and not get near. You will forget who the people are that hurt you and the situation could repeat itself. It alters your experiences and those experiences could affect the people around you because it could make you seem like you experienced something completely different than you actually did and that could affect the person or people that also experienced it with you and it could be giving you a false sense of happiness. The drug makes you forget memories that you are compelled to keep. If an incident that you have experienced could be the make or break point and you go and erase it then you are not only affecting yourself but the people who were counting on you to verify an event. It is also very selfish if you had a traumatic experience with others and they are dealing with the pain and the grieving and all you had to do was take a drug and be over it. Taking the drug is taking the easy way out. You will never learn how to deal with tragedy or pain if all you do is rely on propranolol. You will go through life never learning how to deal with things on your own and potentially make everything worse in the long run. This drug could be a downfall if you experienced a bad breakup and decided that you wanted to take the pill to forget that person that you once loved, then one day you run into that person and they want to get back together and they realized that the whole thing was a big mistake and you do not recall who they are or how you know them and then it has a negative effect on them. It could put them in a downfall and could make them depressed or turn to drugs or alcohol. If only you did not take that pill or at least waited a while you might be back together with that person. This could go with any kind of relation to a person not just a love interest. “I don’t mean to judge the way in which others should treat (or be treated for) their own personal tragedies. But for me, I needed to retain every detail of my memory, not only for the manslaughter trial that followed a year and a half later but also for my own well-being. . . . Although it’s painful to relive that night and its aftermath, doing so helps me feel that I am doing something positive with this tragedy. As for erasing the memories of that night, I would never want to take a chance that even an iota of all the positive memories of my wonderful sons would disappear along with the painful ones (Therapeutic forgetting).” Although her sons died it is important for her to deal with pain and remember what has happened to her, her sons and how it has affected her life. It would be so easy for her to take the pill and forget about the pain but it is important to remember her sons in both good and bad circumstances. You may never get over something but everyone has the potential to get through something and without the pill goes to show how strong of a person you are.

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Could Propanolol be used to alter the minds of the unwilling? (falling into the wrong hands)

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Pro

The threat of people using the propanolol drug to alter the minds of the unwilling is a very real and should not be taken lightly. Through out history, nations as well as individuals, have been searching for the most advanced technology to get a step ahead of the rest of the world. Whether the strive to further progress in technology is motivated by economic, social, political, or territorial gains, the reality of the matter is very apparent. It is not uncommon for governments of highly influential countries to use every resource available (moral or immoral) to better their "position" in the world. The drug propanolol is not exempt from this reality of "do anything to win" mentality.propanolol is a beta-blocker which means it interferes with nerve signals transmitted by the chemical norepinephrine. This can be used to treat heart attack patients or depression, but could aslo be used to tamper with the mind. With the right resources and technology invested into the drug, using it as a weapon is a very real concern. We can look at a few times in recent history when governments have used or searched for technology to better their military. Nazi Germany was notorious for searching for mythical artifacts to try and use during world war two. along with the artifacts they had many profound scientific weapon projects. Among the weapons were a death ray that would incinerate flesh, flying bomb-carrying disks, space mirrors, and a sound cannon. These weapons may sound a bit silly now, but the fact that there was extensive research and testing done on each one of these prototype weapons shows that nothing is too extreme or bizarre when it comes to warfare. If A nation, or individual feels strongly about the possibility of a weapons possible existence and effectiveness they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Don't think the United States is exempt from far-fetched ideas pertaining to weapon/war. In the 50's and 60's there was an illegal CIA research project called Project MK-ULTRA which essentially was a research conducted on mind control. The CIA sought to control the minds of test subjects (both American and Canadian) through chemicals,sleep deprivation, isolation, and verbal and sexual abuse. All one would have to do is figure out a cleaver way of administering the drug and it could be considered a weapon. Possible tailoring of the drug to respond to ques administered or determined by the saboteur,would make it possible to change the opinion or attitude of a world leader.



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Con

There is a possibility for any drug to be abused. Propranolol is a highly effective blood pressure medicine among other things, and should not be feared "I think it's an unfortunate misconception that it's blotting out memories," said Charles R. Marmar of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who helped conduct the French study. "What it does is help people manage the memories so they can tolerate them." Today people are more scared then ever about threats such as terrorism, dirty bombs, swine flu, the economy, and countless other maladies that have been over exaggerated by the media. To the that an anti depression drug would be used as a sort of weapon or mind control device is almost comical or fanciful in a way. An extreme amount of chemistry and and tailoring would have to go into the process of designing propranolol in such a way to be able to control ones actions,a process which is frankly not possible with modern technology. And to say it could be used to dull ones thoughts or emotions in a negative way is not on par either. Propanolol is used for controlling high blood pressure and relieving anemia symptoms. Propranolol may also be used off-label to relieve alcohol withdrawal symptoms, treat hyperthyroidism, and slow down the progression of aortic dilation in children with Marfan syndrome. Yes propfranolol is sometimes used to treat anti depression, but even in those cases it seems to work for the patients with out tampering with other aspects of their minds or lives.

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Should we be in charge of deciding what memories to get rid of?

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Pro

You should be in charge of what memories you want to keep and what memories you want to forget about. It is your body and your life and you are the only one that is feeling the pain of the memory. If forgetting about a memory will make you feel better than you should have the right to do whatever will make you happy even if that means you have to take propranolol. You are the only person that knows what is traumatizing to you and if you feel you can move forward by using this method, than there should be no problem with it. The goal in life is to be the best you, which you can be and if there are painful memories that hold you back each and every day than you must take action and be in control of your life. An example of this would be a person that goes to war and witness their friends being killed. This person should be able to say, “I don’t want to have to remember the vividness of this event”. This event is constantly showing up in there day dreams, nightmares, and certain sounds keep triggering the memory. This person should be allowed the right to say I don’t want to deal with this memory anymore. This person has fought to protect Americans and in return he should be allowed the right to have a fairly happy life. No person should have the capability to prevent another person from being happy. We must all find our happiness in our own ways, and if that means we should use propranolol than that is what we should do.

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Con

You should not be in charge of erasing your memories; it should be approved by a doctor. Many people make decisions in the heat of the moment and end up severely regretting their decisions. By altering your memory is a very big decision that should take great though. It’s not a decision that should be made in one afternoon. By making this uses of propranolol a more serious matter it may make people think about whether or not it is really worth erasing there memory and by having to get it approved by a doctor it may make them take a second look at whether or not the memory is worth keeping. Doctors can help bring up the points that the patient may have forgotten to look at such as is it going to affect any one else in your life. This is a big question. Just because you have decided to forget about this memory does not mean the people around you will have forgotten what has happened. The doctor could also present you with that fact that you are taking a piece away from yourself that you will never be able to remember again. You may not think this is an issue at first but if you truly think about you may realize that that event changed the way you view the world and maybe you appreciate everything you have more because you understand that life can be short. But without this memory you may not realize how lucky you are to have everything that you do. Propranolol does more than just make you forget about bad memories it changes you as a person. This change can never be set back as to decide that you do not want a certain memory is a very big decision. Which brings me to the conclusions, that if you want to eras your memory, you must first have that memory approved by a doctor to ensure that you are not making a lifelong regret that you may not remember or realize you made.

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