Brunet deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Ptsd) for 15 years, he has also collaborated with other experts in Ptsd, as the professor of Harvard's Roger Pitman, and has developed a method called "reconsolidation therapy", therapy, compression, that affects the way the brain records and stores a memory.
An hour before the meetings - one per week for six weeks, which can last from 30 minutes to an hour - the patient should take a certain dose of propranolol, a medication beta-blocker usually used for pathologies such as migraines or high blood pressure. During the meeting with the therapist, the person writes the story of his memory, and the reads then aloud.
"It's a bit like what happens with the computer between Ram and Rom", explains Brunet on the phone from Montreal. "At the beginning the memory of the human is encapsulated in the Ram and then transferred into long-term memory, Rom. If during this process intervenes interference, that memory will be saved in a different way". The idea is to "re-record" the memory under the influence of propranolol, which interferes with the emotions associated with that memory".
so Far, Brunet has treated so "hundreds of patients in 15 years", mainly war veterans and victims of terrorism, even some of the survivors to the carnage of November 2015 in Paris.
The results of his research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, talk about a success rate of 70%. And now the canadian professor has got it into his head to "cure" the wounds and the emotional trauma of those who defines "romantic betrayals", betrayals, love affairs, as in the story sweet and poignant, Joel and Clementine, the main characters of The Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind, (in Italian: If I let you gate): Clementine, who decides to erase from the mind memories of him, Joel.
The strength of his memory, the new encounter. "This is not erase the memories, but to change the feelings with which they are associated, a bit like when she thinks of her ex: it does not do more harm, no?", smiling Brunet. The facts remain, guarded in the area of the brain called the hippocampus. Change the emotions that we associate to the events, saved in the amygdala.
But the question remains: why sterilize the experience, deprive us - yes, even - of the pain? Brunet is convinced of the challenge of a taboo, "the idea that there is something to learn from the suffering. I do not deny that in part this may be so, but how much suffering do we need before it becomes useless? We have to accept that people suffer up to the point perhaps of up to and including suicide? We are talking about specific cases of people who after months, if not years, continue to suffer in such a manner as to not be able to have a normal life".
As the French woman who, one day, presented in his office, unable to do anything: she had been abandoned by her husband with two small children. The therapy has worked, she has resumed her life, none of the patients has ever asked to go back, tells the doctor: "The risk of abuse with our method is very low".
Yet we want to be prudent. To intervene on the aspect of physiological re-enactment of memories, by decreasing the intensity and the feelings associated to reduce the suffering is not a new road," explains Francis Cro, psychiatrist, department of mental health of Viterbo, italy. Take medication to overcome the trauma you can do, you do, but you need to proceed with caution, relying on a doctor and follow specific protocols. "More and more the psychotherapeutic approaches are associated with the interventions somatic because it is seen that the trauma is remembered by the body. It is a promising avenue but the drugs should be used with caution," says the Cro. "The propranolol has effects on the cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, affect heart rhythm, should be taken under medical supervision".
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