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On the misery of hyperthymesia

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Duke of York, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    This condition, as everyone knows, is a rare one in which the possessor can recall in detail, every event in his personal life with photographic clarity. Whilst it sounds on the surface to be a boon to know exactly where you put the car keys and suchlike, apparently for those people who have hyperthymesia, it isn't the blessing it might seem.

    It isn't yet known what causes it, but apparently their brains work differently from the rest of us and disrupts the manner in which the brain processes thoughts and so on that don't require memory in the same way.

    I would imagine it creates a tension in marriage, when for example, you can never forget the occasions you argued or felt aggrieved by a disservice that was done to a joint account. The effort required to put it all behind you must be enormous. The ability to be able to recall every kiss and orgasm you ever had when love was in the air in the days before you wed and fret over being less frequent once the knot was tied, must be heartbreaking.

    It's always a popular and recurring theme on here to discuss how life was in the past, so I guess we enjoy what memories we have, however there are inevitably comparisons with life today and life back then, tempered between the "It was so much better when..." and "Kids these days don't know they've been born.

    The intriguing thing about hyperthmesiacs is the degree of control they have in calling up memories to order.

    Maybe in time when they understand the condition better, someone will invent a machine with electrodes they can attach to our scalps that will stimulate those areas of our brains that are overworked in the hyperthymesic and under-worked in the normal, such that we can experience the condition for a while. Who knows, if they do, it could become a form of entertainment that we pay for in the same way we might put a shilling in the juke box to listen again to the music of our youth for a few minutes.

    Would you like to relive parts of your life in Technicolor glory? How many shillings would you think it wise to feed such a machine with? You'd need to consider that a great evening may have been preceded by a horrible day. That the holiday you enjoyed the most began with three days of living in the clothes you boarded the plane in and you were tearing your hair out whilst they searched for your luggage and found it had been sent to Paris, Texas instead of Paris, France, or the other way round.

    I think I'd give it a shilling's worth to start off with and see how it went, but whether I spent another shilling would probably depend on how many minutes you get and what part of the day you'd chosen to be recalled. For example There have been times I've been stood at a bar and waited ten minutes to be served before saying to the bird I was with, "C'mon girl, I've had enough here. There's another pub down the road." I can't imagine I'd find reliving that experience would be worth a shilling.

    But then again, maybe they might be able to perfect a device like this to the extent there's a second set of electrodes that allows a partner to share your memories as seen through your eyes. Would that be a good or bad thing?

  2. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Duke of York Star commenter
    This condition, as everyone knows, is a rare one

    Is it? I'd never heard of it. Sounds terrible, though.
  3. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

  4. cuteinpuce

    cuteinpuce Star commenter

    Borges wrote a short story about someone with a condition like that. Because he could recall every detail about everything, he found it impossible to generalise about anything. No abstractions in his life, everything individual and different.

    I must get back to reading Borges again...
  5. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    He says things like 'Life itself is a quotation'. You can't get much more pseud than that.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  6. cuteinpuce

    cuteinpuce Star commenter

    I guess from a religious point of view (though I'm not sure if Borges was a believer) that would make sense. Life comes from the Word of God and is an expression of God's love.
  7. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    That must be why he makes people suffer so much, eh?
  8. cuteinpuce

    cuteinpuce Star commenter

    It would certainly be an interesting thing. We all experience things differently; our memories by their nature must be very individual and personal. So experiencing someone else's memories of a shared experience would be odd, to say the least.
    kibosh likes this.
  9. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    @Duke of York
    1. Why were you writing this at such an ungodly hour?
    2. Why is your dog still wearing Christmas antlers?
    kibosh likes this.
  10. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    I think he burns the midnight oil because he is making a collection of his musings for publication for posterity.
    Dunteachin and kibosh like this.
  11. kibosh

    kibosh Star commenter

    My current levels of contentment and happiness are utterly reliant on me having a bad memory. To have this condition, hyperthymesia, would be awful. I'd want to pick fights with people, even people i don't know anymore.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  12. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    According to google, only 12 people in the entire world have the condition
  13. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I like having a dulled memory. I can remember some moments with crystal clear clarity - some happy, some sad, some ordinary, some extraordinary, but to remember ALL? No, it would get too crowded...
  14. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Does it say how many people who had it committed suicide?
  15. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Never mind spending any more shillings DoY, when are you going to repay the 1953 minted shilling I lent you at 11:37 on 12 July 1967 to buy a 99 Flake and a mixed bag of Blackjacks and Fruit Salads to impress that ginger-haired girl who lived with her auntie Mabel at number 7a Laburnum Gardens?
    sabrinakat, Duke of York and kibosh like this.
  16. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Serious question - how would we know someone with this condition was remembering every last detail of their lives? Who'd corroborate it? How would we know they weren't fabricating the fine detail around a framework of key moments?

    The human mind is certainly a mysterious place. When my Dad suffered a form of dementia he didn't know which day it was but could recall the fine details of a sprint he'd won in the late 1940s, including the positions of the other runners and their names. We retain a hell of a lot of information.
  17. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    I would imagine they get referred to psychologists over some other aspect of their lives that the condition prevents them functioning normally in.
  18. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Partially because as I don't believe in God, He refuses to tell me what hours He keeps.

    He might bite me if I try to remove them and then I'd have to post on the animal bites thread.
  19. marcel_ellis

    marcel_ellis New commenter

    I remember, vividly in living colour and moving pictures, the day I was put in a dentist's chair and had the mask put on me for a tooth problem; I was four years old ( confirmed by parents when they were alive). I remember standing in front of a mirror in the middle of the night in my parent's bedroom hysterical as I was afraid of dying; I was seven. I remember coming home from school and finding the house bare; removed of all furniture ( tables, chairs beds) , it was all gone! Debt collectors had come to the house that day as my parent's factory had gone bankrupt; November 1963, Belgium. Remember the smallest things that have and are still going bad that to any other person would be a non-event. I am stuck with this, and because life is not perfect know there are more to come. However, the person I feel for and have most concern over is my wonderful wife who has to put up with this rubbish from me. I an now 62 years old, have been married for 37 years to this wonderful person but have told her whenever she wants and can not cope any more to leave me and find someone better. I would not wish this on anyone.
  20. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Interesting post, marcel. I would guess that significant childhood events which border on the traumatic are likely to remain in the memory longer than others.

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