Occasionally, as happened recently, I am approached by a client who wishes to remove the memory of an event. This may be for any number of reasons, for example a traumatic childhood experience which the client considers debilitating in later life or perhaps the memories of a relationship which has subsequently ended.
Whilst on the face of it the request may appear to be reasonable and understandable, I declined this approach for following reasons:
Firstly, I feel it is true to say that every experience that we have in life (good or bad) is a lesson for the future. By removing the memory of the experience we remove the lesson – thereby reducing the chances of avoiding the upsetting or negative situation in the future. Also in the process of removing the memory I can never know what else I am removing as I wasn’t there at the original event.
Aside from the potential risk of removing some other unknown information that the client may have had a need for, removing the memory of an event could potentially have had distressing consequences perhaps years in the future when the client finds they are unable to remember a seemingly unrelated situation that everyone else around them remembers clearly. There is also a possibility that an innocent party who was present at the original event may bring the subject up in conversation and again the client remembers nothing which could potentially cause embarrassment or distress.
I decided that a far more useful approach was to remove any negative emotions or feelings connected with the event while still retaining all of the details. This approach allowed the client to keep the learning gained from it without the unwanted debilitating effect.
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