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Canadian researcher says blood pressure drug could help ease painful memories of an ex

Reconsolidation therapy works to save memories in the brain as a less emotional version of themselves.

A Canadian researcher says he has found a way to erase the emotional sting out of a bad breakup or painful memories of an ex via reconsolidation therapy.

The therapy uses a beta-blocker to edit the memories the brain registers as painful and emotional.

Patients taking part in the therapy are asked to take the blood pressure medication propranolol before their therapy session. Once in the session, they are asked to write down and relive the traumatic memory by reading it aloud. 

In a BBC article, Dr. Brunet said, "Often when you recall memory, if there's something new to learn, this memory will unlock and you can update it, and it will be saved again."

This opportunity allows the patient to target the memory, unlock it, update it, and re-save it in the brain.

Factual elements of memories are stored in the brain's hippocampus. But their emotional component is stored in the brain's amygdala. 

"Imagine that you are shooting a movie in the old-fashioned way so you have the image and the sound and they are on two separate channels," says Dr. Brunet.

Many have compared reconsolidation therapy to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In the film with Kate Winslet and Jim Carey, an estranged couple go through therapy to erase memories of each other.

But this therapy doesn't completely erase the memory of an ex. Burnet notes that the memory isn't gone forever, just changed so patients hurt less.

His research suggests that 70 percent of patients found relief from their painful memories of an ex after a few sessions.