Researchers claim they can induce false memories and use drugs to wipe out real memories

Interesting stuff in this Guardian story.

“We can easily distort memories for the details of an event that you did experience,” says Loftus. “And we can also go so far as to plant entirely false memories – we call them rich false memories because they are so detailed and so big.”

She has persuaded people to adopt false but plausible memories – for instance, that at the age of five or six they had the distressing experience of being lost in a shopping mall – as well as implausible ones: memories of witnessing demonic possession, or an encounter with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland.

Also intersting is the ability to block real memories:

The finding that propranolol can be effective at blocking memory when given after an event as well as before is important because, as Loftus explains, “In the real world you can’t be there to exert your manipulations right at the time an event is happening, but you can get on the scene later.” It has been proposed that propranolol should be offered to victims of rape as a standard measure to prevent them developing PTSD.


In the end, says Loftus, it will come down to personal choice. “What would you rather be in the world, sadder but wiser, all too well remembering the horrors of your past and feeling depressed, or perhaps not remembering them very much and being a little happier?”