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Memory-Erasing Drug Worries Are Overblown, Some Ethicists Say
Memory-erasing drugs couldِ do moreِ than erase a bad memory; theyِ couldِ help treat mental ailments suchِ asِ post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), andِ one neuroethicist argues thatِ these drugs shouldِ beِ developed andِ used, regardlessِ ofِ ethical concerns.
Neuroethicists, researchers whoِ focus onِ the ethics ofِ altering theِ mind, worry theِ drugs couldِ easily beِ abused andِ alsoِ may create anِ altered humanity.
Kolber, whoِ isِ a professor ofِ law atِ Brooklyn Law School andِ editor ofِ the Neuroethics & Law blog, suggests thatِ we shouldn’tِ letِ these ethical dilemmas getِ in theِ way ofِ developing memory-erasing orِ other memory-altering treatments.
Tinkering with memories
Memory-dampening drugs areِ in theِ pipeline toِ treat addicts, victims ofِ abuse andِ people suffering fromِ PTSD, according toِ Kolber.
The President’s Council onِ Bioethics hasِ said itِ fears suchِ drugs wouldِ beِ abused, orِ would interfere withِ ourِ ability toِ lead true andِ honorable lives, andِ undermine a person’s sense ofِ identity, according toِ a statement onِ the topic released inِ October 2003.
Neil Levy, a researcher atِ Oxford University inِ the United Kingdom agrees withِ theِ council thatِ ourِ memories andِ our sense ofِ self areِ entwined, butِ notes thatِ dimming oneِ memory shouldn’tِ affect ourِ personality asِ a whole.
The firstِ memory-dimming drug, Propranolol, works byِ blocking theِ memory-strengthening brain chemicals.
When takenِ afterِ a traumatic experience, itِ canِ dampen future symptoms ofِ PTSD.
(Consolidation isِ the process usedِ byِ the brain toِ seal experiences intoِ long-term memory.) Kolber sees notِ using suchِ drugs toِ speed recovery ofِ a trauma patient toِ beِ just asِ threatening toِ a patient’s sense ofِ self asِ the council suggests theِ drugs themselvesِ couldِ be.
Non-drug treatments, suchِ asِ talk therapy, canِ alsoِ change theِ brain, butِ people tend toِ worry moreِ aboutِ drug interventions thanِ aboutِ other, non-pharmaceutical treatments, Kolber noted.
Bad Memories Erased With Behavior Therapy] Drugs areِ viewed asِ special, likeِ magic potions thatِ canِ beِ used forِ good orِ evil.
Would suchِ a drug beِ abused, orِ used recklessly.