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Was “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” really a documentary?

April 6, 2009

At the New York Times, Benedict Cary has an eye-opening story about new scientific findings that raise the possibility of eliminating bad memories from our consciousness, freeing people from the negative effects of trauma, curing people of addiction, and more:

The drug blocks the activity of a substance that the brain apparently needs to retain much of its learned information. And if enhanced, the substance could help ward off dementias and other memory problems…

The discovery of such an apparently critical memory molecule, and its many potential uses, are part of the buzz surrounding a field that, in just the past few years, has made the seemingly impossible suddenly probable: neuroscience, the study of the brain.

So, the question is: if you could take a drug to remove, not repress, unwanted and negative memories from your brain, would you do it? Are we the sum of our recollections? Is it true we are who we are because of the experiences, both good and bad, that we’ve accumulated? What if you could banish all of your bad experiences from your consciousness? Would it make you a better, happier, freer person? Or would it make you someone else?

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