Long-Term MemoriesThe Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Traumatic memories haunt the lives of people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and other illnesses. Fortunately, recent research into the changeability of long-term memories may someday develop into treatments for such individuals. But before this can happen, researchers must determine just how effectively the fear associated with older memories—especially those involved in PTSD—can be reduced and for how long.
Toward a New Treatment for Traumatic Memories
Whether the result of violence, war, or disaster, the intrusive memories that haunt people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cannot always be healed through psychotherapy or current medications. Now research on the biological basis of memory offers the hope of new drug treatments that may be able to lessen the disabling fear associated with traumatic memories and perhaps even fundamentally alter them. Neuroscientists Jacek Debiec, M.D., Ph.D., and Margaret Altemus, M.D., argue that this possibility raises profound ethical and philosophical questions that must be examined even as researchers work to relieve the suffering of PTSD.