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Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



The emergence of manipulation techniques that dampen, disassociate, erase, and replace unsavory episodic memories have given pause to even the most ardent proponents of the practice. Supporters of memory manipulation have since clarified that the interventions should be made available exclusively in extreme and limited-use cases. In light of the narrowing of this approach, the present essay examines the arguments in favor of limited-use memory manipulation (LUMM) for the two most commonly-cited circumstances in which the practice is claimed to be justified: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance addiction. After examining the neuroscience of PTSD and substance addition, the critical concepts of biomedicalization and the codification of new diseases, the myth of global autonomy loss, and the terminal normlessness of LUMM are explored to underscore the false hope of deliberate forgetting.


Dr. Peter DePergola is Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School, Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities at the College of Our Lady of the Elms, and Director of Clinical Ethics at Baystate Health. He holds secondary appointments at Tufts University School of Medicine, Sacred Heart University, and the American Academy of Neurology.

Open access journal.