The ‘Do Not Press’ Button

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Remember those buttons in cartoons that say Do Not Press in huge letters?

And of course the cartoon character just has to press it.

So they do, and all sorts of mayhem ensues.

As a child I always wondered why they had such a button at all. Wouldn’t it be better to disconnect it somehow.

Suppose they did disconnect it? How could they know it had worked and the button was now safe to press?

Ironically, they could only be sure by pressing the Do Not Press button again. Except this time, when they do, nothing happens.

They can now change the sign from Do Not Press to Press It All You Damn Like.

This is how we check whether memory reconsolidation worked too. Whatever button was pressed to trigger the response before, we press it again expecting a different response.

The formula for memory reconsolidation is Activate + Mismatch + Repeat.

The trauma removal process itself needs us to activate the old prediction – the trauma response – albeit lightly.

But how can we test whether it worked?

The answer is like the cartoon button. Whatever we did to activate it in the previous session, we do that again.

Like the disconnected button, this time it brings a calm response. Nothing negative happens.

We can then move from don’t do this, to do it all you damn like.

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