Veronika V. Nourkova and Darya A. Vasilenko, psychologists from the Lomonosov Moscow University, have explored the potential benefits of implanting false positive memories in anxiety sufferers to see if they can be freed from their difficult pasts.
The researchers recruited 120 volunteers—73 female and 47 male. Each individual was assessed to identify those with a greater tendency to anxiety. The study employed Taylor’s Manifest Anxiety Scale (TMAS), getting individuals’ reaction to a set of 50 statements that reveal their emotional state, and in particular, their ‘anxiety proneness’, as the study puts it. Scores ranged from 0 to 50, and individuals’ who scored 21 or above was deemed to be demonstrating clinically significant levels of anxiety.
Next, anxious individuals’ were asked to relate memories of past events that still bothered them with the instructions: “Recollect, in as much detail as possible, three episodes from your past that represent to the maximum degree your personal traits that force you to be worried and anxious.” The 120 individuals’ were then divided into groups that could work on neutralizing their troubling memories—or not—using four different approaches:
- The Discussion group attempted to work verbally through the memories.
- The Hypnosis group was hypnotized and directed to imagine pleasant locations on a multi-sensory level, for example, imagining a beach and smelling the sea and hearing birds. Afterward, they were played soothing natural sounds.
- The Memory Implantation in Hypnosis group was hypnotized and instructed to imagine re-experiencing their uncomfortable memory, at which time they were guided by hypnotist Vasilenko to a positive outcome.
- The Control group listened to sounds of nature for 35 minutes.
The tests were repeated twice at weekly intervals for three sessions in all, one per unpleasant memory. The link below discusses the results
Link to research: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09658211.2017.1420195?journalCode=pmem20