"One need not a chamber to be haunted; one need not a house; the brain has corridors surpassing the material place."
I read an interesting article last week, about research that is currently being done on a new drug that may have the capability to ease the bad memories we store after we experience a traumatic event. Even in such extreme cases such as rape, other types of violent attacks and, maybe even after surviving a natural disaster. The pill, Propranolol, would be given to the sufferer in the weeks following the traumatic event to help block the naturally released hormones that help store the memories in the brain. During times of stress, the body produces adrenaline and other, "fight or flight" hormones which over time can produce panic attacks, and post traumatic stress disorder. Propranolol is from a class of drugs called beta blockers.In initial testing the new drug shows some promise in easing the traumatic experiences, according to a Canadian and Harvard research report. It is hoped that one day a cure may be found for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I personally, have suffered from panic attacks in the past, but I was able to successfully gain control of them after attending a 13 week stress management group therapy program that was offered by my HMO, Kiaser Permanente. The group was called, "MAP" (Managing Anxiety and Panic). One of the elements of the therapy was to learn to recognize the "triggers" of our panic and anxiety. With panic attacks, this can be difficult, because often, one is not aware of what the trigger might be. Sometimes a scent, a sound, a sight which may not register as an obvious trigger, may in fact have a stored memory attached with it of something traumatic. So, we students had to play detective, and find out what symptoms of the panic feelings bothered us the most, and in that more then likely lived our trigger. For me the sudden onset of a pounding heart and the almost out-of-body, surreal feeling was most troublesome. Even today however, I am not sure if it was one event stored which brought about the type of PTSD I was eventually diagnosed with, or if it had been a series of events.
When I think about what could have been the triggers, I think it would be a good thing to have a medication that could ease those memories. I don't tend to dwell on the painful times in life, if I can help it, but sometimes I wonder if I didn't make myself ill because I didn't face the hurtful memories head on before now. If there had been a magic pill offered to me when I was in deep excruciating pain, I would have more then likely taken it...who wouldn't welcome the relief? But the thing I am wondering about now is, could it be a bad thing to forget the initial psychological pain associated with, as an example, assault? Would it make one a less reliable witness if the psychological pain could be eased? Would it make someone less likely to report a crime? Or press charges? How could this drug be manipulated? Could someone request the medication to forget long term abuse, because the patient wants to remember why the care about their abuser?
Ok, I know, my questions are kind of in the abstract, but I do wonder about most psychological medications. I have gained greatly by them personally, and at the same time I have seen them mask some larger illnesses in my family. Like with everything, it is an individual choice and they must be monitored closely by the right physician or therapist. I am not sure today, as I sit here, that I would want to take a medication to lessen the degree of stress should an incident happen again like ones that have happened in my past. I think for me, at this point, I am personally better off facing the trauma as it occurs rather then suppressing it. How about you? Would you want to try this medication if you were in the position to need it, such as surviving a natural disaster? Tell me your thoughts.
Trauma Pill Could Make Memories Less Painful
January 18th, 2006
My 2017 Reading List
9 months ago