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Bonny Albo

Would You Erase the Memories of a Painful Breakup?

By May 11, 2013

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It sounds like something straight out of the Jim Carey movie, "Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind," however this is something other than fiction. As reported in the April 2012 edition of Psychology Today, there's considerable evidence showing that memories can be erased.

From drugs that specifically target certain memories, to behavioral changes that help sufferers to cope with traumatic past experiences, to "disarmed" viruses that focus on derailing the neural networks holding negative associations, there's a whole host of new procedures, experiments and treatments currently under review. But is it ethical, and if so, would people actually chose to erase their painful pasts?

For me personally, my memories are a huge part of who I am, and even if some are negative, I want to keep them. I've grown, learned and created so much during trying times, and that's separate from the fact that I've written my best work about or during particularly challenging life events. It's rarely easy, and I've definitely needed help to get through my difficult times, yet that doesn't mean I'd change, erase, or otherwise alter them.

But, what about you? If you had the opportunity, would you choose to erase the memories of a difficult breakup, abusive relationship, or other negative dating experience that you'd rather not have experienced? Why or why not?

Related: Top Breakup Movies, Letting Go of a Long Term Partner, Breakup Stories, Feel Better After a Breakup.

Source: Chant, I. (2012, March/April). Wiping the slate: Is playing with memory humane - or is it just plain wrong?. Psychology Today, 45(2), 14.

May 14, 2013 at 10:25 am
(1) Diane says:


Several years ago I went through a marriage breakup

What followed was emotionally and physically draining for myself and my husband. The separation was only temporary and we got back together within a few weeks.

At times we still talk about how the breakup impacted on us. Usually if some one we know also experiences a relationship break down.

Memories of those times serve as a marker for how and why we split up.
Neither of us would wish to erase those awful memories, it’s a sobering reminder of a period in our lives that we never again wish to repeat.

We have remained happily married now for more than 15 years.

May 16, 2013 at 2:19 pm
(2) Dr. Fred, Psy.D., Ph.D. says:

Whether it be a bad breakup or some other negative life experience, my decision to tell the person to forget about it depends on the nature of the person involved. Some people would definitely be better off forgetting about the breakup while others may view it as a “learning experience” and choose not to forget but also choose not to let it keep them from finding a better relationship in the future.

June 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm
(3) Brenda says:

u must errase everything and start new life……several years age i’ve divorsed and thought that never meet new person, but i was wrong… i’ve met HIM

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