Is It Possible To Love Someone So Much That We Need To Erase Him When It’s Over?
By Laura Schreffler
“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.” Or so said Alexander Pope in Eloisa to Abelard, the poem on which Charlie Kaufman‘s epic film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is based. In Sunshine, two ex-lovers, Clementine and Joel, are so bruised that they seek to actually erase the other from their memories. The movie itself is deeply affecting, a beautiful and bitter little tale of love. But this novel concept, this fantasy of forgetting, is about to become a reality.
The procedure used in the film was far more complex than what scientists have now created. A team at Leicester University in the U.K. seem to have unlocked some secrets on how the brain deals with stress, which has paved the way for a drug that eases painful memories.
The discovery was made, of course, using lab rats. Genetically engineered mice were unable to make a protein called lipcalin-2 and reacted more severely than other animals. The mice lacking protein had fewer ‘mushroom-shaped’ junctions key to consolidating memories, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
“Mushroom spines help us remember things we once learned – but it is not always good,” says researcher Dr. Robert Pawlak. ‘Some very stressful events would better be forgotten quickly or they may result in anxiety disorders. There is a constant battle of forces in our brain to help maintain the right balance of thin and mushroom spines – or how much to remember and what better to forget.”
He continued, “We have identified a protein that the brain produces in response to stress in order to reduce the number of mushroom spines and therefore reduce future anxiety associated with stressful events.”
According to the scientist, a drug that boosts lipcalin-2 could be available in less than a decade. Meaning: in ten years, you’ll be able to forget – or at least become numb to – the man that broke your heart.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to forget the men that I’ve loved. Remembering is what helps you to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again, what helps you to grow as a person. How can you give your heart fully to the right person if you’re not ready because you still have things to learn?
That said, I don’t think I’ve ever had that bruising, soul-destroying, crushing love that some people experience. I’ve never gone catatonic like Bella did when Edward disappeared in Twilight. I’ve been strong.
I couldn’t tell you what my future self would do. Maybe I will fall in love with someone so deeply that I need a drug to physically erase his memory from my mind.
In Sunshine, Joel (Jim Carrey) cries, “Look at it out here, it’s all falling apart. I’m erasing you and I’m happy! By morning you’ll be gone.”
I don’t want to erase, forget, or wipe the slate clean. As Florence Welch sings in Florence + the Machine‘s “Shake it Off”, “I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind, I can never leave the past behind.” And I don’t want to.
But if forgetting gives you peace, then by all means, do whatever it is that makes you happy.
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About the Author: Laura Schreffler is a former New York Daily News columnist who left the world of celebrity behind to focus on what makes her happiest — love and travel. She is the creator of LoveTrekker.com — a website devoted to these two passions that she fondly calls “looking for love in all the right places.” In her spare time she likes to play matchmaker for her friends, dream about her next vacation and gaze at photographs of Taylor Kitsch. For more advice on love, relationships, and happiness, check out http://lovetrekker.com & her book "Internet Dating 101". And follow her here at Happiness Series with her weekly blog about finding love.