The Spotless Mind


According to the BBC, "A common blood pressure drug could help people who have witnessed traumatic events, such as the London bombings, to block out their distressing memories."

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  1. Yes, but could it help me block out the horridly designed ads from and carpet humper guy?

  2. Yeah, propanolol, although it’s not that common anymore. And it doesn’t help block painful memories, it helps prevent post-traumatic stress disorder. The literature for the biology of PTSD is quite interesting.

  3. Would the drugs really help anyway? London bombings are always on television, newspapers, and radio.

  4. jeeze, don’t you people have firefox and adblock yet?

  5. Line up for the soma ration.

  6. Sorry, what was this article about again?

  7. Beta blockers don’t affect memory directly, but they do have the effect of blunting the adrenaline (fight/flee) response. There’s some evidence that this response can cause memories formed under stressful circumstances to be particularly well-remembered and painful.

    I take atenolol for an arrhythmia, and the most striking effect (aside from the desired one) has been that my fingernails started to grow for the first time in many years — whatever internalized stress that had me chewing them was dissipated. This is so subtle that it took a couple of weeks for me to make the connection.

    Not to drive the point too hard, but saying that beta blockers affect memories is a lot like saying they affect fingernail growth.

  8. mediageek,

    That comment totally cracked me up!

  9. dhex: even with firefox’s adblock, that Rightalk box has a new horrible, grainy mini-cartoon every day. So when you block one, a new one takes its place soon after.

    And just so you know, the advertisers are getting smarter. Go to a site like SPLOID or THE ONION, and what they do is, they give the image HTTP location names ending in a bunch of codes, and the codes randomly change every time you reload or access the page. And since the adblock software simply blocks the http address of the image, they all just pop right back up next time, because adblock doesn’t recognize the new address. Mark my words, this will become more and more prevalent.

  10. Linguist-

    Thank you.


  11. “adblock software simply blocks the http address of the image”

    ahh, no it don’t. you can wildcard that shit pronto.

    *.swf is your friend

    /ads/*.php is your friend.*.* is your friend.

  12. dhex, correction: call me stupid for not thinking of this before! You got me wondering if there was any way to wildcard an entire web address, so that it wouldn’t matter what stupid codes they put there. Lo and behold, you CAN! When you adblock something, and it brings up the address of the image, delete everything after the forward slash that follows the primary http address, and replace it with an asterisk. So, for example, becomes*

    I tried that, and it worked. Maybe you already knew this, but it’s a great thing! No more sploid ads! HAHAHA!

  13. dhex—yeah, I just figured that out. Thanks though…’tis a good day…

  14. Speaking of spotless minds… Is that a chastity belt on that cow up in the upper left?

  15. You people are stealing web content by not looking at the ads!!!!

    And I’ve got a check ready to go for a subscription for both me and my father as soon as Reason stops using pop-ups.

  16. jesus, dude, firefox. again. pop up blocker. shit. if i were more of a nerd i’d write my own plugs for that stuff. i love firefox. and google maps. and that pedometer hack for google maps. that’s handy, though i wonder how they correct for speed and stride and whatnot, outside of weight.

    holy shit mozilla owes me like, 3 grand by now.

  17. If cloning is outlawed, only outlaws will have clones.

  18. Dhex-I’m not only a Firefox user, I’m an evangelist for it. But I can’t install it at work.

  19. Is the chastity belt on that there cow covering its *?

  20. Besides, the pop-up thing is a matter of principle. And I’d love a Reason sub, but I have a rule that I don’t deal with companies that use pop-ups.

  21. Number 6,
    Don’t do much sampling of porn sites then do we?
    Are you some kind of pervert?

  22. “… to block out their distressing memories.”

    I thought that was what Jim Beam and Jack Daniels were for…

  23. Johnnie Walker,
    Why the hell did you mention competing brands?

  24. I thought that was what Jim Beam and Jack Daniels were for…

    Our good Mexican friend, Jose Cuervo…

  25. Don’t do much sampling of porn sites then do we?

    I can neither confirm nor deny viewing porn sites. If I do, however, I certainly don’t give them any money.

  26. Can it help me forget high school?

  27. Three cheers for propranolol! I took that stuff when my thyroid went nuts on me a few years ago. It got to where i would go into a simple meeting and my jaw would go numb just thinking about talking to people i’d known for years, regarding very simple topics that didn’t pose any threat to anything. I’d literally fall apart just thinking about talking to living people. Of course, my resting heart rate was about 130 at the time and i didn’t know it. thyroids are really, really weird, i have learned, and very sneaky about their ill effects on the body.

    Knowing a few things about the role of the amygdala ( a back brain area implicated in fight or flight and other “base” or “animal” type responses) in memory formation, i could see where a drug like propranalol could prevent it from being activated, thus preventing the creation of a hotly burned “veridical” memory.

    But i think you’d already have to be taking it at the time the event happened to have any effect. And you’d still remember it, but you probably just wouldn’t have the massive freak-out you’d experience without it. So maybe it would have some effect on baby-killing soldiers (my experience with it tells me it wouldn’t; it doesn’t turn you into a sociopath, it just mellows your wired, trembling ass out) but it wouldn’t make a real difference in terms of MEMORY of a stressful event like a bombing. All it would do is make you less freaked about it. You wouldn’t forget it.

    I can attest to that last to some extent. I was in DC on 9/11, about a mile north of the Pentagon. A massive freakout day if ever there was one. I was on propranolol at the time. I still remember that day in lurid detail; the fear of going home, of wondering what other bombs there might be, of snipers in the streets ready to pick off unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians as they made their way home over crowded bridges in bumper to bumper traffic… propranolol didn’t prevent any of that from becoming memory. But it probably did keep me from shaking myself into a thousand pieces.

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