A 'Magic' Pill That Can Neutralize Traumatic Memories And Fears?

How propranolol, a drug used for years to combat high blood pressure, can actually change the fear response to PTSD, traumatic stimuli, and triggers. 

A 'Magic' Pill That Can Neutralize Traumatic Memories And Fears?

There’s a drug that can immediately minimize or even remove the trauma and fear response in human beings. Called propranolol, it’s been around a long time for other things such as heart disease, but during a recent scientific study, people were exposed to their worst fears and traumas (say, spiders, loud noises, or even memories of traumatic incidents), take the drug, and then that fear is basically neutralized. Another summary of the study is here


It’s got a lot of potential for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other traumas, and extreme fears or phobias about certain objects and situations. Because it can sometimes take years, tons of therapy, and multiple medications and more to help people get past or at least cope with their traumas, as well as phobias, this is a potentially massive game changer.

The key is for them to take 1 dose of this pill at the same time as being re-exposed to the trauma/fear or other triggers. 

Until this discovery, the predominant form of therapy was using a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that involved constant re-exposure to the stimuli or situation that caused trauma in the patient, but in a safe environment. That was only effective about half of the time, and even then, not necessarily for the long term. This approach is much more effective.

There will be more studies coming soon about the effect of this drug on traumatic memories and PTSD, but the existing research is extremely promising.

Here, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps The Score, talks about the first recognition of the concept of trauma, and how even the field of psychiatry long resisted a diagnosis of PTSD and/or trauma, especially in kids. 

Thumbnail image Creative Commons licensed.

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