Cure PTSD with a pill? Give me a break!!

Mnemosyne coverResearchers at MIT suggest that we’ve moved closer to creating a pill that would remove bad memories.  Researches say they have identified a gene that plays a critical role in “memory extinction.”  Old “bad” memories would be replaced with new ones, which would, in turn, provide a pill for addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  This information troubles me.  So much so that I want to vomit.

I can not speak for soldiers who suffer from PTSD, but I can tell you how victims of childhood sexual abuse deal with PTSD, and “bad memories.”  Here’s a bit of my story.  My memories of childhood sexual abuse were buried for decades.  Although I was not aware that my bad memories even existed, I was filled with misery.  Try being miserable and exhibiting bad behavior, and not having a clue as to what was going on.  Not being aware of the “bad memories” made no difference.

When I was approximately 50 years of age my mother revealed past events that  triggered tons of bad memories.  So bad that I had nightmares of being raped that caused me to vomit and slide into panic attacks.  For fear of losing my sanity I turned to a psychologist for help.  We began long term therapy, and with the help of medication I became more receptive to the demands of therapy.  This led to a review of my past behavior, conversations with family members, visits to the sites of the past abuse, journaling, self exploration, etc…  I can provide only a snap shot of my experiences on a blog, but I can say that I would not want to replace the bad memories with good ones.

We are a product of our biological makeup and our life experiences — nature and nurture.  My memories are my history, and partially determine who I am.  Because of the abuse, I did not know how to trust, to feel, and ultimately how to love.  But through long term therapy I learned all of the above, and even became a writer.  I went through hell but my therapist brought me into the light, and life is better than I could have imagined.  Please don’t take away my bad memories.  I’ll just manage them as I do now, and taste the sweetness of life.

You can read more about my experiences in my latest book, “Mnemosyne:  A Love Affair with Memory.”

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