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Pill to erase bad memories: Ethical furore over drugs ‘that threaten human identity’

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David Derbyshire
UK Daily Mail
Monday, Feb 16, 2009

A drug which appears to erase painful memories has been developed by scientists.

The astonishing treatment could help sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder and those whose lives are plagued by hurtful recurrent memories.

But British experts said the breakthrough raises disturbing ethical questions about what makes us human.

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They also warned it could have damaging psychological consequences, preventing those who take it from learning from their mistakes.

Dr Daniel Sokol, a lecturer in medical ethics at St George’s, University of London, said: ‘Removing bad memories is not like removing a wart or a mole. It will change our personal identity since who we are is linked to our memories.

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‘It may perhaps be beneficial in some cases, but before eradicating memories, we must reflect on the knock-on effects that this will have on individuals, society and our sense of humanity.’

Dutch researchers claim to have erased bad memories by using ‘beta-blocker’ drugs, which are usually prescribed to patients with heart disease.

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This article was posted: Monday, February 16, 2009 at 4:31 am

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