Will We Soon Be Able to Erase Painful Memories?

erase painful memories

There are some memories in life that shape us. In most cases, there would be happy memories. In some cases, though, these memories can be quite traumatic. Whether it’s from a past abuse or a traumatic loss, it can negatively shape you. If this were you, would you want to erase painful memories to allow yourself to move on in life?

Is That Even Possible?

There is a procedure under research that could erase painful memories. It’s known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT in short.

The procedure consists of a brief seizure-like experience. It’s performed by allowing electrical current to enter the brain. It’s performed under anesthesia, which lessens the risks involved.

It’s thought that this procedure can stabilize the chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s this chemical imbalance that causes most mental illnesses too, such as manic depression and psychosis.

Has It Been Done on Humans?

Regarding the use of it to erase painful memories, it has mostly been demonstrated on rats. The results, however, were promising. They’ve led many to believe that human clinical trials are the next step for this study.

On the other hand, ECT has been used for decades to treat several severe mental health disorders. It has shown a calming influence on those agitated by dementia, as well as those suffering from catatonia.

A common side effect of ECT is memory loss. It’s this side effect that scientists are hoping to tap into to erase painful memories.


Post-traumatic stress disorder and other memory-related fears affect a good portion of people. With something like ECT, there is the potential to erase painful memories that are causing their stress or fear. The potential is there but the viability of ECT in this application still requires more research.

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