First Advisor

Howe, Thomas

Thesis Committee Member(s)

Bowie, Thomas


Regis College

Degree Name



Regis College Senior Honors Program

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access



Number of Pages

127 pages


To date, very little is known about the neurocircuitry of posttraumatic stress disorder, and currently 5.2 million people are suffering from PTSD in the United States alone. In hopes to treat PTSD symptoms, researchers have targeted corticosteroids, beta-adrenergic antagonists, and opiate analgesics to reduce hormonally enhanced memories and fear conditioning. This paper focuses on a study involving propranolol, a beta-adrenergic antagonist, as a treatment for PTSD-like symptoms and its potentially unethical consequences. From the scientific standpoint, it seems great to eliminate suffering and it is fascinating that a drug can numb the emotional context of an experience. However, this great scientific goal does not seem quite so marvelous when one asks the question: is the cost of eliminating memories or the emotional aspects of memory worth the benefit of reducing suffering? This question, forces an individual to think of the value of his or her memory, the value of his or her emotions, and the problems that may arise for society if a treatment is found. Nothing is as simple as it seems. It is important to not accept things as right or wrong simply because one opinion is the general consensus. Instead, each person must ask his or herself tough questions and form his or her own answers to those questions. It is through the thought processes that one takes in answering such questions that truly informs the individual. Although the development of a treatment for PTSD is not a single person's decision, the administration of a treatment does require one's consent. Before consenting to a memory altering treatment, each person with the potential of developing PTSD must think of the consequences, both good and bad, that the treatment may have.

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Location (Creation)

Colorado (state); Denver (county); Denver (inhabited place)

Rights Statement

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