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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, is one of the most brilliant love stories ever. The '04 flick tells the story of Joel and Clementine, a couple who go through a painful break-up and end up having a procedure done that "erases" memories of their time together. Definitely something anyone who has ever been through a rough split may have fantasized about! And in the next 10 years, it may be something people can actually do. Crazy!
The gist: University of Leicester researchers identified a protein called lipocalin-2 that the brain produces in response to stress. Lipocalin-2 reduces junctions that brain cells use called "mushroom spines," which help us remember things we once learned. By artificially bumping up the level of the protein, the scientists say they can reduce future anxiety associated with painful memories.
Seems like the kinda thing that would be great for people suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, but to help you recover from a break-up? HORRIBLE idea! I'm sure it would be really tempting for people to use this future drug in that way, but to do so would be a ginormous mistake.
Break-ups, no matter how painful, shape who we are as people and who we are in our relationships. Even bad dates matter! I admit, there are definitely some memories of dates and men I have wished I could completely wipe away FOREVER. Even now, just thinking back to those experiences makes me cringe. But would I take a pill to actually eliminate them from my brain? Never. I am who I am today, because I went through those cringe-worthy times. I know myself better, because of those nerve-wracking, upsetting, or painful circumstances. And I believe I am happier now in many ways, because of the path I took.
Plus, if people could just take a pill to rid themselves of bad memories surrounding a break-up, how could we ever learn from our mistakes? How would we ever have any hope of preventing ourselves from falling into the same old patterns, making the same missteps, picking the same wrong guys, etc.? That's right -- we wouldn't.
Science like this certainly is exciting, but the applications for it should probably be very strictly defined (you know, like just for people with severe depression caused by PTSD). In Eternal Sunshine, Joel and Clementine learned that erasing their memories of one another wasn't the solution to their bad split. This pill won't be a bandage for anyone else's either.
Would you ever take a pill to erase memories of a bad or stressful break-up?
Image via UniversalStudiosEntertainment.com