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"Science fiction is really sociological studies of the future, things that the writer believes are going to happen by putting two and two together."
- Ray Bradbury

Erased Memory  
  A procedure that deletes selected memories from the human mind.  

In the story, Quail is apparently an ordinary man who dreams of making a trip to Mars. Low on funds, he approaches Rekal, Incorporated to have some false memories (extra-factual memories) implanted - he will at least have memories of the trip he wanted.

Unfortunately, there was a pre-existing condition; he actually had gone to Mars, but the memories had been erased.

"...The trip is very vivid in his mind - at least under sedation. But apparently he doesn't recall it otherwise. Someone, probably at a government military-sciences lab, erased his conscious memories; all he knew was that going to Mars meant something special to him, and so did being a secret agent. They couldn't erase that; it's not a memory but a desire...
From We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Fantasy and SF in 1966
Additional resources -

This may not be a procedure that can be done more than once:

"...Maybe they can erase your memory once more, I don't know...

For an earlier version of this idea, see anti-heptant from Jack Vance's 1956 novel To Live Forever. See also this article on brain erasure from Edmond Hamilton's 1948 story The Knowledge Machine.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from We Can Remember It For You Wholesale
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to We Can Remember It For You Wholesale
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

Erased Memory-related news articles:
  - Amnesia Drugs: Bad Memories Blocked
  - Memory-Erasing Chemical
  - Selective Memory Deletion In Mice
  - Tetris Reduces Emotional Scars
  - Can Brains Erase Memories?
  - Memory Erasure Thanks To Snails
  - DCS May Extinguish Fearful Memories
  - Erased Memories In A Flash Of Light

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