Friday, July 13, 2007

Before I forget

Story in the Post about a CU study on teaching people cognitive techniques to forget "traumatic" events:
There may yet be a way to erase that aching memory of the middle school snub, the deafening car crash - or the fiery explosion that killed your friend and took your leg.

Forget it - with practice.

"Individuals can learn to suppress emotional memories," said Brendan Depue, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder and lead author of a memory study published today in the journal Science.

Depue and two colleagues at CU and the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center coached 16 people to forget terrible images they'd been shown earlier - car crashes, the electric chair, a wounded soldier.

"We told them do not let the image come to consciousness, to actively clear their minds of it," Depue said.

With practice, people forgot the troubling image about half the time, he and his colleagues reported in their paper.

"This is very exciting work," said Mike Anderson, a University of Oregon psychologist and internationally recognized researcher in the suppression of intrusive memories.
Well he would say that, wouldn't he? Whatever, I just liked a phrase in this paragraph:
"There was a belief in the trauma community that things that are truly traumatic - and these pictures are - are difficult or impossible to forget," Anderson said. "But they did."
The trauma community.

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