We all have memories we wish we could forget.
Whether it’s a painful breakup, a humiliating moment, or a traumatic event, there are some memories that we can’t seem to escape. These memories can be so overwhelming that they start to interfere with their daily lives for some people.
If you’re struggling to forget a bad memory, you may be wishing for a way to erase it, as shown in various science fiction stories.
Is it Possible to Erase Specific Memories?
A study from 2017 suggests that this sci-fi idea might be possible – maybe.
The researchers demonstrated the possibility of deleting specific memories and fear responses by manipulating particular proteins that are associated with brain plasticity – in Aplysia sea slugs.
Translating this into humans safely and effectively is much more complicated and not yet proven possible.
The loss of memories characterizes conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but this loss happens indiscriminately.
There is no known way to target and delete specific memories in humans.
Should You Erase Your Bad Memories?
Even if we could erase our bad memories, is it really the right thing to do?
Bad memories can serve an essential purpose.
They can help us avoid making the same mistakes again and provide valuable lessons.
Our memories, both good and bad, make us who we are.
They shape our identity, story, and view of the world.
Erasing these scary memories might not be the right approach to recovering and moving on.
A Better Solution is Already Here
Evidence-based therapies for dealing with traumatic memories already exist.
These approaches do not try to erase the memory. They help you find a way to process the memory so that it no longer causes you distress.
One well-known therapy is exposure therapy. This cognitive-behavioral treatment strategy involves gradually rehearsing and exposing yourself to the memory in a safe and controlled environment.
With the help of a therapist, you’ll work through the memory until it no longer produces a strong emotional reaction.
EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is another effective option, using an 8 stage process to help you reprocess the memory more healthily.
If you’re struggling to deal with a bad memory, reach out to a mental health professional to discuss your treatment options.
You don’t have to live with the pain and distress of a bad memory forever.