Eternal Sunshine and Spotless Minds

What if you could skip the hardest part of a break-up – the heartache, the anger, and especially the fear of getting hurt again? The movie, “Eternal Sunshine…” imagined such a scenario, and now, it may be possible… but at what cost?

There is evidence that a pill, Propranolol, may make frightening events less destructive and painful. In an experiment at Mass General Hospital, the drug was tested on individuals who have undergone major trauma (versus a placebo), it proved effective in diminishing trauma’s negative effects. And while heartbreak wasn’t a qualifier for the study (participants were limited to those with more physically damaging traumas), the testing of Propranolol brings up an interesting point. Would you alter your negative experiences if it would make life easier?

Or, more importantly, is an easier experience actually a better one?

Life = experiences
Obviously, different people will have different responses to the question. But consider that our experiences make us who we are. Minus your life’s traumas (and granted, some are far worse than others), would you be the same person, only shallower? Or, would you be just the same old you, just detached from painful experience?

While it may be hard to imagine in the midst of it, the pain of loss can be a profound, enriching experience. Those who have suffered and endured often gain compassion that makes them a treasured inspiration to others – take Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama for starters. Even those who have endured the cruelest, most devastating events will sometimes tell you they wouldn’t change them. They learned, they changed and they grew as a result. In the end, it seems, the way you experience events is all about perspective.

Clearly, everything has a price, even altering an experience so it doesn’t cause suffering.

Profits from loss
Ultimately, consider the power of memories, and the power of love. You may find the phrase “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” a bit cliché, but as experience often teaches us, the reason something becomes a cliché is usually that it’s true.

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