Memory Month Day 28: Remembering Everything

The final day of the Memory Challenge is here. Part of me wants to say “Finally!”, and then proceed to do a victory dance. However, the other part can’t help but feel a little sad that it’s all over.

Via Wikipedia

Being the final day, I wanted to honor it, and speak about something truly extraordinary: the ability to remember everything. Is that possible? In short, yes. If you want a more detailed account, then you’d have to pay close attention at how you define that “everything”.

The condition that refers to the capacity of an extremely detailed autobiographical memory is called Hyperthymesia. It is extremely rare, but it does exist. At first glance, it might be surprising that it’s called a “condition”. I think “superpower” might be closer to how people would normally identify it. They teach us in Psychology classes that memory isn’t like a recording device, registering everything that happens, and then storing it away. Instead, it is an extremely sensitive and selective process, in which some information is kept, and most is discarded. Well, guess what! Hyperthymesia is like being able to record everything, or at least nearly everything.

The problem with this, and the reason why it’s called a “condition”, is that it does come with complications. Sometimes, there are things that are better forgotten than being remembered. Even when we have an ordinary memory, there are still things that stick to out minds, but we wish they’d just fade away. Imagine what it would be like if we could remember every single one of all the mistakes we’ve ever made.

Plus, we’d run into the problem of having a reduced capacity to actually form new thoughts. When out minds are soaked in past events, replaying their memory over and over again, other mental tasks tend to decrease. Well, of course they do! The brain is already pretty amazing at multitasking, but there’s only so much it can do.

At the end of the day, I could make an argument for having Hyperthymesia or I could make one in favor of not having it. The truth is, both of these…”conditions” come with their set of benefits, but also with a set of drawbacks. Now, since I don’t happen to have the greatest memory that ever existed, I’ll stick to outlining a few benefits of not having it. Informative and self-serving…what a great combination!

1)Your brain retains meaningful information and gets rid of the rest

Isn’t this great? It’s like you have your own, personal cleaning lady of the mind. Of course, sometimes, this cleaning lady screws things up, and decides to throw away things that are actually important. For those times, however, there’s benefit number two.

2) You’re in control

If you’ve happened to forget something, don’t fret! You can still put it back where it belongs. Using one of the mnemonic devices I’ve used throughout this month might come in handy!

In the end, it’s all about appreciation. I’ve talked about this in yesterday’s post, but repeating this concept doesn’t strike me as a bad idea. Regardless of how strong your memory is, you can improve it. But even if you couldn’t, there’s still good things about forgetting.

Happy End of February! 🙂

/Larisa

  • Confused about what’s going on? Click here!
  • For the post that started this challenge, click here.
  • For yesterday’s entry, click here.
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