Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Memory-Blocker Pill for PTSD Sufferers?

James McGaugh, a professor of neurobiology at the University of California, claims that memories are pliable at first and take time to solidify in our brains (he likens them to Jello). An ongoing study with a blood pressure medicine (that has been unofficially used to quell stage fright), Propranolol, is trying to prove that traumatic memories can be expelled from the mind...

This could have huge implications for redeployed military personnel, rape victims and maybe most importantly child victims of sexual abuse...

The large study is being funded by the National Institutes of Health...but of course it's not without its critics:

"...The President’s Council on Bioethics condemned the study in a report that said our memories make us who we are and that "re-writing" memories pharmacologically … risks "undermining our true identity." "It risks making shameful acts seem less shameful or terrible acts less terrible than they really are".

David Magnus, director of Stanford University’s Center for Biomedical Ethics, says he worries that it won't be just trauma victims trying to dull painful memories.

"From the point of view of a pharmaceutical industry, they're going to have every interest in having as many people as possible diagnosed with this condition and have it used as broadly as possible. That's the reality of how drugs get introduced and utilized," Magnus argues.

He’s concerned it will be used for trivial reasons. "If I embarrass myself at a party Friday night and instead of feeling bad about it I could take a pill then I'm going to avoid – not have to avoid making a fool of myself at parties," Magnus says. "Our breakups, our relationships, as painful as they are, we learn from some of those painful experiences. They make us better people."

But while the ethicists debate the issue, the science is moving forward. Researchers have shown in rat studies that propranolol can also blunt old memories.(source)

There was a time Prozac was given out like candy --should the people that actually suffer from acute depression have been deprived of the drug because doctors decided to write scripts for anyone having a down day? The fact that there is a possibility the drug will be overused or used frivolously should be addressed with the prescription-happy docs... Depriving those who have suffered debilitating traumatic events the chance to function normally seems unthinkable to me...

Read the entire article

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