Science Has a New Drug to Erase Your Painful Memories

'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' inches ever closer to reality

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In science-imitates-Michel-Gondry-movie news, researchers from the University of Montreal are claiming that an out-of-production cortisol blocker, administered in large doses, can erase memories of traumatic events, just like the "targeted mind erasure" Jim Carrey used to forget that Kate Winslet exists in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Yay, right?

The hope is that the procedure will give people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders "the opportunity to 'write-over' the emotional part of their memories during therapy," says lead researcher Marie-France Marin. Based on the increase in Eternal Sunshine-style, amnesia-on-demand breakthroughs since the film's release in 2004, they'll have competition.

In 2007, scientists at Harvard and McGill University used propanolol, a heart drug known to cause memory loss, to"dampen" traumatic memories in PTSD patients and then reshape them before they were able to "harden" again. The Telegraph explained the research was predicated on the idea "memories can be manipulated because they act as if made from glass, existing in a molten state as they are being created, before turning solid," which seemed hazy, but in 2009 Amsterdam University announced a similar discovery about propanolol, which unlike the University of Montreal's "amnesia pill" metyrapon, has the distinct advantage of still being produced commercially.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.