Be careful what you wish for. That’s what Joel, played by Jim Carrey, discovers in Charlie Kaufman’s 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, when he asks a memory-erasure company, Lacuna Inc, to excise the recollections of a painful breakup from his mind. During the procedure, Joel realises he doesn’t want every memory of the relationship to vanish and tries desperately to hold on to a few fragments.
The movie offers a metaphor for how we are defined by our memories, how poignant is both their recall and their loss – and how unreliable they can be. So what if Lacuna’s process is implausible? Just enjoy the allegory. Except that selective memory erasure isn’t implausible. It’s already happening.
Researchers and clinicians are using drugs to suppress the emotional impact of traumatic memories. They have been able to implant false memories in flies and mice, so that innocuous environments or smells seem to be “remembered” as threatening. They are showing that memory is not like an old celluloid film, fixed but fading; it is constantly being changed and updated, and can be edited and falsified with alarming ease.
source: the guardian