“Memory reconsolidation” describes how, when we recall a memory, it can become pliable. There is hope—and some intriguing early data—that, at the moment of recollection, we might be able to intentionally change a memory and make it less burdensome. This ability to modulate distressing memories is being investigated as an intervention to treat post-traumatic stress disorder,1 addiction,2 phobias,3 and is thought to have promise for depression or anxiety more broadly. It rests on an idea that’s emerged from our understanding of memory over the past few decades: Memories are not fixed, even the ones that haunt us the most.
“The treatment doesn’t remove the remembrance of the events,” Lantoine says. “It just removes the pain that was associated with the events. It doesn’t erase what happened to you. It just changes the impact it has on your life.”Nautilus