Description: Perhaps not the best topic for Valentine’s day but the fact is some relationships end and some end badly with the former participants struggling to come terms with heartache. Heartache is a very general term, one which has a lot of poetic weight but what does it involve Psychologically and how might it be fixed? Now before you dive into your poetic bag of tricks for a fix (take a vacation, buy some ice cream, talk to a friend) think a bit more analytically and psychologically. A broken heart involves a memory of the breakup and feelings associated with it. Both likely lean pretty heavily on betrayal or loss of trust and those bring big emotions with them. So, what to do? Well what if we could essentially, under controlled conditions, call up the memory and all its emotional entanglements and then do something to the memory that would result in reducing the emotions associated with it. If we could do that how would we do that? Read the article linked below and find out!
Source: Can a blood pressure drug help ease the painful memory of an ex? Jessica Murphy, BBC News, Toronto.
Date: February 12, 2020
Article Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51317388
Seems hard to believe doesn’t it that calling up a painful memory and focusing on it in detail could end up making it less painful with the addition of a simple drug. It helps to see that perhaps when we call up a memory we work on it a bit and then reconsolidate it or recommit it to memory using pretty much the same process we used when we first aid the memory down. It sounds counter intuitive that working on a memory might help us forget at least parts of it. Add to that the idea that the memory and the emotions that are associated with it are processed and stored in different areas of the brain and that the drug used disrupts emotional processing but not memory processing and your have a possible fix for the emotional pain of heartbreak. Promising stuff. NO go and enjoy Valentine’s Day!
Questions for Discussion:
- How are memories and particularly emotionally charged memories stored?
- What is reconsolidation in relation to memory?
- What sorts of therapeutic areas might benefit from this work on adaptive reconsolidation of memories?
References (Read Further):
Lonergan, M. H., Olivera-Figueroa, L. A., Pitman, R. K., & Brunet, A. (2013). Propranolol’s effects on the consolidation and reconsolidation of long-term emotional memory in healthy participants: a meta-analysis. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-23402-002
Lonergan, M., Saumier, D., Tremblay, J., Kieffer, B., Brown, T. G., & Brunet, A. (2016). Reactivating addiction-related memories under propranolol to reduce craving: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 50, 245-249. Link
Moore, S. A., & Zoellner, L. A. (2007). Overgeneral autobiographical memory and traumatic events: an evaluative review. Psychological bulletin, 133(3), 419. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc2665927/
Krinsley, K. E., Gallagher, J. G., Weathers, F. W., Kutter, C. J., & Kaloupek, D. G. (2003). Consistency of retrospective reporting about exposure to traumatic events. Journal of Traumatic Stress: Official Publication of The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, 16(4), 399-409. http://faculty.uml.edu/darcus/47.375/aversive_exp/krinsley_etal_03.pdf