I need to know whether a person can get rid of his/her past(need selective memory loss) say 5-6 months through ElectroConvulsive Therapy. Otherwise the question can be posed as "Can the ElectroConvulsive Therapy take out a person's memory?"

If yes, how far is that possible?

If ECT can cause memory loss, explain it in detail

  • Yes, but I assume you wish to keep the person alive! "selective" is hard, as just destroying the brain removes ALL memories. Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


Is it possible to forget our past(bad memories) through Electroconvulsive Therapy?


To simplify somewhat, ECT is associated with:

  • immediate general cognitive and memory dysfunction represented by disorientation (e.g. "Where am I? Why am I here? What's the date today?"): transient and generally resolves in a matter of 30-60 minutes after the procedure.

ECT is often associated with:

  • loss of short-term memory during the period of time that you are having ECT treatments (e.g. "Did I have lunch already? I saw you today? What did I say?": Your ability to remember new information will generally return to your normal level within a few weeks to a few months after the treatments are finished.

ECT is sometimes associated with:

  • memory loss for past events. Events of 2-6 weeks before treatment are the more sensitive. Some patients have "spotty" memory loss for events as far back as 6 months before beginning ECT. ("I can remember Christmas with my family, but I can't remember what gifts I got." "I remember going to New York, but I don't remember where I stayed." This memory impairment is potentially (not certainly) permanent. Rarely, patients have reported a more severe memory loss of events which date back further than the 6 months preceding ECT treatments.

You can't count on ECT for any memory loss, since the norm is to remember everything within a few months at most. Also, as mentioned in comments, there is no way to know which memories will be affected. You might remember every painful detail of the past year, and forget some of the more pleasant ones.

Electroconvulsive therapy

  • 3
    Good answer. Maybe it is worth mentioning explicitly that, even when a partial memory loss of past events happens (the third point), there is no way for the doctor administer the therapy to control which events are forgotten, by age or by anything else.
    – rumtscho
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 18:39

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