Terrifying memories got you down? Don’t fret – get them shocked out of your system with an old method under a newfangled name called “extinction therapy.”
Here’s what happens:
A person recalls a horrifying memory and, well, becomes horrified.
That memory, however, has a brief period where it can be altered or “modified,” right after it’s recalled and before it’s checked back into the brain to be stored anew.
When it is altered with a “mild” shock on the wrist, the terror can be erased.
Memories are recalled by exposing folks to something that will trigger the horrifying memory, such as the sound of gunshots, demon groans, or whatever will bring back their specific fears.
So far, some researchers found the effects of such extinction therapy last for at least one year, with a story at ABCnews.go.com saying it could possibly be a permanent alteration of the brain.
Drugs tested on animals have shown the same memory-blocking effect as the shock therapy, but those drugs just so happen to be toxic to humans. Oh well.
Some are a bit cautious about throwing extinction therapy out the world.
University of Arizona regent’s professor and cognitive scientist Lynn Nadel has been quoted in several articles concerning the procedure.
“We know that [fear] extinction tends to be context specific,” he says in an article on BioEdOnline.com. “If you’re using extinction on someone with post-traumatic stress disorder from the war, they might feel safe if they have a flashback in the laboratory but not in the real world.”
What the heck good is that? Why even bother with the shock treatment if the person has to sit around in a lab to feel safe anyway?
Besides, this newfangled shock treatment sounds way too creepy and a bit like the 1971 flick Clockwork Orange.
Clockwork’s main character, a gang leader named Alex, is purged of his violent tendencies by being forced to watch scenes of bloody mayhem with his eyes wired open and an electrical gadget stuck to his head as Beethoven streams lovingly in the background.
And we have to wonder what’s next – another breakthrough called lobotomy?
Would you trust shock treatment? Have you ever undergone any?
How do you deal with terrifying or painful memories?