Freaking People Out with My Long Term Memory
I learned something new today. I have written blog after blog about how weird my long term memory is; for details, and for picturing scenes exactly as they were back in time. I even wrote a whole blog about these picture (or Mind Movies) memories, about each year in school from Kindergarten on. You can read that here, and it is just a small sampling of the vivid memories that I hold in my overloaded brain. (A classmate read it and offered that she too has this weird savant ability.) Today, I learned there is a name for this type of freaky memory.
I always thought it was called a photographic memory, but in fact, it is called Eidetic Memory. Here is a description from Wikipedia. I am glad I have a name for it now. The description below nails it as my memories are very visually based, down to clothing worn and scenery.
The terms eidetic memory and photographic memory are commonly used interchangeably, but they are also distinguished. Scholar Annette Kujawski Taylor stated, “In eidetic memory, a person has an almost faithful mental image snapshot or photograph of an event in their memory. However, eidetic memory is not limited to visual aspects of memory and includes auditory memories as well as various sensory aspects across a range of stimuli associated with a visual image.” Author Andrew Hudmon commented: “Examples of people with a photographic-like memory are rare. Eidetic imagery is the ability to remember an image in so much detail, clarity, and accuracy that it is as though the image were still being perceived.
Me in an aside before I continue with the wiki entry: I have described this as time travel, and as mind movies. as they are always out of my brain, as you can read from the description below.
Back to Wikipedia:
“Eidetikers”, as those who possess this ability are called, report a vivid afterimage that lingers in the visual field with their eyes appearing to scan across the image as it is described. Contrary to ordinary mental imagery, eidetic images are externally projected, experienced as “out there” rather than in the mind. Vividness and stability of the image begins to fade within minutes after the removal of the visual stimulus. Lilienfeld et al. stated, “People with eidetic memory can supposedly hold a visual image in their mind with such clarity that they can describe it perfectly or almost perfectly …, just as we can describe the details of a painting immediately in front of us with near perfect accuracy.”[
By contrast, photographic memory may be defined as the ability to recall pages of text, numbers, or similar, in great detail, without the visualization that comes with eidetic memory. It may be described as the ability to briefly look at a page of information and then recite it perfectly from memory. This type of ability has never been proven to exist and is considered popular myth.
End Wiki entry.
Back to me— it has become obvious to me that this memory of mine makes people uncomfortable. I am running a high school group page on Facebook, and when I connect with fellow classmates, I private message them and share memories of them. This is usually followed by complete silence on their part because they have no recall of the event, or memory, and sometimes just a hazy memory of me. I have scared some people away with this “talent.” Some of my happiest and funniest memories are wasted because they are not shared. It is much more fun to share funny or happy moments with a person who remembers the event. Yet that is rare.
It reminds me of the expression, “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
My expression would be: “If you have a memory that is vivid, but no one can share it (remember it) did it really exist?”
Of course the answer is yes, it did exist. I can prove a bunch of things remembered by my old diaries that I kept, as I was an aspiring writer from way back. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like it existed because it is not shared. Very, very few people have the ability to recall minor events that happened in high school. I can remember minor events from elementary school on.
I am at the point where I should probably stop reminiscing with people on the one-way street I am on. I think people are just happy to be remembered at all and do not need my freaky details to make them feel insufficient for not being able to remember.
I have a friend from back to my high school days, a guy, who sadly does not remember some of the funniest memories I have of him. He was quite a character, but he is a grown man and a senior citizen now as we all are, and though he is still sarcastic, and loves to tease, he is not even nearly the character he was back in the day. (Note to self: Characters have to eventually grow up.) I have a great fondness for him as I do for many of my longest term friends, because it was a joy to share so many fun times and happy memories with them. I enjoy remembering the funniest moments because I am a human that just loves to laugh, and these memories still make me laugh or just smile. Yet, why am I the only one who remembers the details? At any rate, I have proven myself so many times to this friend on my memory recall that he has at first disputed;, that he has thrown up the white flag. Recently he was with a guy who grew up on my block that I was really never connected with in any way, and the guy was surprised I remembered him. My friend responded back, “SHE NEVER FORGETS ANYTHING.”
So as a big reunion approaches with my classmates in a few years, I am going to have to dial back my freaky memory details. I don’t want to alienate half the class, or give them any reason to feel uncomfortable. I just have to start practicing keeping my mouth shut now to prepare for the big event. PS – this is dedicated to classmate Denise who shares my weird ability. Denise, it has a name and definition!!!