Have you ever wished you could find out how to forget a bad memory?
We hope life could be a bed of roses. However, we fail to remember the thorns which evolve into bad memories. Consequently, we wish we knew how to remove bad memories and be free from the shame or the pain. However, can memories be erased?
When you think of memory erasure, you probably recall scenes from films such as “Men in Black.” But scientists are now discovering that to clean out bad memories we don’t need to use complicated technology or strange contraptions with wires and flashing lights.
By studying the neural pathways in the human brain, they are beginning to understand that simply by rewriting the context of our memories; we can erase traumatic and painful associations. Keep reading to find out how you can erase your memory that might be holding you in the past, trapped in a cycle of suffering.
Keep reading to find out how you can erase your memory that might be holding you in the past, trapped in a cycle of suffering.
What Are Memories?
A series of electro chemicals fire between different nerves in the brain arouse memories. Consequently, this determines how you feel about certain recalled facts: was an incident pleasant? Was it uncomfortable? Does it give you anxiety?
When you recall something traumatic, your neurons will produce stress chemicals, and you become reminded of how afraid you were. Also, if you find yourself in a similar situation, it will trigger the same brain chemicals. For example, when you look at a picture of someone you love, pleasure hormones surge, and your mind fills with images of good times you spent together.
How to erase memory
Memories are actually very plastic, and without realizing it, you are altering them all the time anyway. If you ever played the game of telephone as a child, it is a good analogy to describe how your brain continually adapts the stories our memories evoke.
If you remind yourself to create an alternative context for a memory every time it comes up, in the long run, you can turn a bad memory into merely a series of factual events that occurred in your life.
For example, if you found yourself in an embarrassing situation that is painful to recall, you could tell yourself how you are one of the billions of human beings who has got themselves into the same circumstances, and it was an event that had little impact on the bigger picture of your life.
Eventually, the emotions attached to the event should shrink, and you might even be able to laugh at yourself kindly.
What about traumatic memories?
Such personal memory altering exercises are usually not as effective with phobias. Similarly they are not effective when someone suffers from anxiety disorders or PTSD. However, scientists have been experimenting with obstructing norepinephrine. To explain, this is a chemical that the brain releases with traumatic memories, in which was activated a fight/flight response.
In a process called “reconsolidation,” they block norepinephrine from being released while the memory is purposefully triggered.
As opposed to exposure therapy, which has been used with varying success rates to treat phobias in the past, the above reconsolidation process was proven to be more successful when tested on arachnophobes. Mere days after the sessions, the test participants were touching tarantulas. And after a year they still were phobia-free.
Other similar studies are being performed using drugs such as xenon gas. This provides an anesthetic effect when a memory is triggered. In this way, when it is recalled later, it is associated with numbness, rather than distressing emotions.
Ethics and Concerns
Some skeptics have suggested that there could be a danger in erasing bad memories. But the scientists carrying out these studies reassure us that the authentic and factual parts of the memories that we recall are not what are being erased, but instead the associations we make with them.
The facts will always be impossible to change – we cannot rewrite history. But even if a hundred people witness a single event, there will still be a hundred unique perspectives. Likewise, there will be a hundred different emotional associations to that event.
If you are traumatized by an event that others have not been, by having the trauma emotions erased you are then able to see the facts in the same way others saw them. If anything, your memories may be considered to have become more clarified and realistic.
Modern Fear Imbalance
But isn’t fear natures way of protecting us? Maybe in ancient times excess fear of the unknown was healthy. However, the brain’s fight/flight response was necessary to protect us from the threat of a saber tooth tiger, for example.
But in this day and age, most fears are imaginary. Furthermore, they become embellished by a modern media that likes to stir up drama for ratings. Having considerably less fear and paranoia in the world could create a human race that doesn’t need to terrorize others because they feel powerless. Maybe peace on earth could start with peace of mind.