Researchers have found they can use drugs to wipe away single, specific memories while leaving other memories intact. By injecting an amnesia drug at the right time, when a subject was recalling a particular thought, neuro-scientists discovered they could disrupt the way the memory is stored and even make it disappear.
The research has, however, sparked concern among parliamentary advisers who insist that new regulations are now needed to control the use of the drugs to prevent them becoming used by healthy people as a "quick fix".
But the US scientists behind the research insist that amnesia drugs could be invaluable in treating patients with psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress.
In a new study, revealed in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, psychiatrists at McGill University, in Montreal, and Harvard University, in Boston, used an amnesia drug to "dampen" the memories of trauma victims.
Prof Karim Nader, of McGill University, said: "When you remember old memories they can become 'unstored' and then have to be 'restored'.
"As the memory is getting restored, we gave patients a drug that turns down the emotional part of the memory. It left the conscious part of the memory intact, so they could still remember all the details but without being overwhelmed by the memory."
The research suggests memories can be manipulated because they act as if made from glass, existing in a molten state as they are being created, before turning solid. When the memory is recalled, however, it becomes molten again and so can be altered before it once more resets.
The drug used by the scientists is thought to disrupt the biochemical pathways that allow the memory to "harden" after it is recalled.
The researchers used propranolol, a drug normally used to treat hypertension in heart disease patients but also known to cause memory problems. They treated 19 accident or rape victims for 10 days with the drug or with dummy pills, while they asked to describe their memories of a traumatic event that happened 10 years earlier.
July 2nd, 2007 1:24am
> The researchers used propranolol,
PropaneLOL? Why just the other day I used AlcoholROFL to forget most of the evening.
July 2nd, 2007 3:18am
Shit, AlcoholROFL is good for loosing a whole damned weekend. Trust me, I don't remember it.
> They treated 19 accident or rape victims for 10 days with the drug or with dummy pills,
Ok, here's the thing ... if one can erase the side effects of rape from rape victims, then the damage inflicted on them is smaller. If the damage from a crime is smaller, then the punishment should be commeasurably scaled down as well. Therefore if propanalol or whatnot would be a boon for rapists.
What do you think of them apples, boya?
July 2nd, 2007 11:32am
> What do you think of them apples, boya?
Punishment isn't tied to effect. Or stealing from a rich person wouldn't be a crime.
son of parnas
July 2nd, 2007 12:23pm
+1 SoP. We punish for the crime, not damage done the victim. That's one difference between a justice system and vigilanties.
July 2nd, 2007 12:52pm
You're saying punishment for all crimes should be the same?
What are you folks talking about? (Do you even understand what I said?)
July 2nd, 2007 12:59pm
Yes. You are saying that since the drug can help people forget how much of a victim they've been, thereby reducing the damage for the crime of rape, therefore the punishment for the crime of rape should be reduced.
Thereby helping rapists. That's what you're saying, right?
We're saying that rapists aren't punished for how much damage is done to their victims, therefore reducing the damage to the victim should not reduce the sentence for comitting a rape.
Whereupon you put in this rediculous straw-man question "then all crimes should be punished the same". Which we were talking about rape, why bring in 'other crimes' into this discussion?
July 2nd, 2007 1:05pm
Well, it's obvious to me that different classes of crime --- murder, rape, larceny, jaywalking --- are punished at different rates *per class*. That is, being robbed is seen as less damaging to the victim than being murdered, even if what was stolen was $10 million dollars and more than the murder victim's life assurance policy.
Don't you agree? Different classes of crimes punishable (to similar degrees) with that class's average damage. No?
July 2nd, 2007 1:09pm
Hey, dude, you're the one who asked the stupid rhetorical question, not me. And now you're pursuing the red-herring?
Yes, different *classes* of crimes have different punishments. We all agree this should be so.
I highly recommend, in future, that you not accuse your opponent of stupidity for not following your argument. It's much more likely that they HAVE followed your argument, but you have not understood their answer. Asking a real question at this point is much more likely to move things forward.
July 2nd, 2007 1:26pm
> That is, being robbed is seen as less damaging to
> the victim
Sure. We also have a lot of social crimes like drugs and gambling where there is no victim. We also have special circumstances etc.
For a long time crimes weren't crimes because they happened to non people like women and blacks. I don't like the idea of judging punishment by your perception of my personal hit points.
Curious, do you agree with the approach of charging fines based on a persons net worth instead of a fixed amount?
son of parnas
July 2nd, 2007 1:42pm
[part 1. the content of the debate.]
STH> Yes, different *classes* of crimes have different punishments. We all agree this should be so.
Ok, good. So you agree that if rape has lesser effects on the victims *on average*, ie, over the entire class, then it makes sense that the standard punishment for rape should also be decreased? That only makes sense, no? From the statement you write above ... classes of crimes of differing damage deserve differing punishment. So forgettable rapes should from than non-forgettable rapes.
That's the conclusion that logic lead me to. I am repulsed and offended by it, yes, as both STH and SoP seem to be. But I understand that my repulsion is a byproduct of my conception of what rape is. And what *effects* it has on victims. Change the effects, change the conception. Are there are any logic arguments why rape would not be as offensive if there was a drug to erase rape memories effectively?
sop > Curious, do you agree with the approach of charging fines based on a persons net worth instead of a fixed amount?
I didn't say that, SoP. I actually said the exact opposite -- a murder gets higher punishment than an expensive larceny despite the murder victim's own evaluation of their own life ... aka, by proxy of an insurance policy.
July 2nd, 2007 2:02pm
[part 2. the format of the debate.]
STH > Hey, dude, you're the one who asked the stupid rhetorical question, not me. And now you're pursuing the red-herring?
Huh? I asked a question which you didn't understand. It wasn't a rhetorical question and it wasn't a strawman argument (it was mine to begin with!!). I apologize that you didn't understand that I was talking about punishment for rape in general rather than inter-crime punishments for specific rapes (which seems so obvious or "rhetorical" it could not have been my meaning). I will try to make it clearer in the future.
It wasn't a red herring either, because, I was the one trying to get the debate back on track (by asking a question that would stop the dead-end line of inquiry).
I did not at any point accuse you of stupidity. Search.
I was simply wondering what unintended consequences a rape-forget drug would have.
July 2nd, 2007 2:11pm
> So forgettable rapes should from than non-forgettable rapes.
So forgettable rapes should be less punishable than non-forgettable rapes.
July 2nd, 2007 2:12pm
Looking back, I see you did not. Sorry about that, I over-reacted.
You've accused me several times of not understanding your question -- which I think I HAVE understood it, but you're being sufficiently vague (and flexible, and apparently changeable) and ignoring my attempts to say "so THIS is what you're saying, yes?" that it's hard to tell.
The simple answer to your simple question is NO, rape should not be punished differently EVEN IF you can erase the victim's memory of being raped.
July 2nd, 2007 2:16pm
STH > The simple answer to your simple question is NO, rape should not be punished differently EVEN IF you can erase the victim's memory of being raped
STH > Yes, different *classes* of crimes have different punishments. We all agree this should be so.
Appear to be a contradiction. If the crime of rape-after-memory-drug-is-usable is different from the crime of untreatable-rape, then they should be prosecuted differently, no?
For one thing the class of rape has become *more* punishable than say 100 years ago as its effects on the victim have been made known. Simply put the jurors who sit on the jury have watched enough television melodramas and documentaries to realize how expansive the effects of rape and that it's not "the slut was asking for it" justification.
My initial question hasn't changed. I do appreciate the chance to clarify it. however -- a good debate will leave both parties better off. I really mean 'class of rapes' which is not any one act itself but class of acts as it's situated within a society. For example, sexual violence within a marriage was once not considered rape. Now it is, and so punishment for *the same exact act* is different according to what the legal system/jury perceives are the effects on the victim.
Again, my attempt is to understand the logic and the underlying gut-response, and the contradictions between the two. I am still personally repulsed by the notion that the class of forgettable rapes would be less offensive than the class of non-forgettable ones ... but I'm old, and my disgusts are more fixed than a newer generation's.
It's a little how The Pill changed the morality of sex.
July 2nd, 2007 2:55pm
Again, simple answer -- "Classes" of crime -- Murder being one Class, Rape being another Class, Burglary being another Class.
Thus Murder should be punished differently from Rape.
You redefined "class of crime" to say that Rape involved multiple classes. I disagree with that definition. Thus there is no contradiction in what I'm saying.
Thus, No, Rape should not be punished differently from how it is, EVEN IF you can make the victim forget.
July 2nd, 2007 3:49pm
I don't think the Pill changed "the morality" of sex. It reduced or removed how often women got pregnant, which changed how often some women were willing to have sex, and with whom. But that didn't change the morality.
What was wrong about illicit sex was still wrong about illicit sex. Adultery was still wrong.
July 2nd, 2007 3:53pm
I guess I find it odd people think moral classes are static. So I'm less redefining a universal and capitalized class of rape, as situating within a causal network (before and after).
Murder, rape, piracy have all been 'redefined' and renegotiated as social structures have changed.
> Adultery was still wrong.
Is it as wrong today as it used to be? 50 years ago a husband could force himself on his wife if he thought she adulterous (she got what she deserved). Today we would say he raped her for a mere infidelity (he did wrong).
Yes, The Pill separated sex from reproduction like no other technology before it. It revolutionalized sexuality, gender roles, even gay liberation benefited. What would the 60's have been without it?
Loretta Lynn "The Pill" ...
This old maternity dress I've got
Is goin' in the garbage
The clothes I'm wearin' from now on
Won't take up so much yardage
Miniskirts, hot pants and a few little fancy frills
Yeah I'm makin' up for all those years
Since I've got the pill
July 2nd, 2007 4:48pm