What if you could save each day of your life as a .pdf or .mp3 file? Later, when you needed to remember or just reminisce, you could open the file and relive any given day as if it were yesterday, recalling not just what you did and who you were with, but every detail of what you saw, read or heard, what you ate, and how you felt.
Jill Price, the first person to be officially diagnosed with a Super Autobiographical Memory, can instantly furnish details such as the day of the week, what she wore, what the weather was like, or what was in the news for any given date since 1980, when she was 14 years old. But, Jill considers her uncannily detailed memory more of an affliction than an ability. In fact, the full title of this book is “The Woman Who Can’t Forget: the Extraordinary Story of Living With the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science: a Memoir.”
Her discovery as a child that her memory works differently from others’, her decision to seek treatment for her condition, called hyperthymesia, and her reaction when she learned that there are no other documented cases of brains like hers are the only interesting parts of her otherwise unremarkable life. Still, anyone who is writing (or even contemplating) her own memoir will relish the way Price experiences writer’s block, despite her compulsive journaling. When every experience is unforgettable, how can she decide which memories define her?
And readers who enjoy mind-brain connection stories by popular science writers such as Oliver Sacks and V. S. Ramachandran will enjoy this similar account told from the perspective of the patient. Plus, anybody who has ever cursed their own faulty memory or marveled at the way the Facebook generation can and does automatically commit to an electronic memory even the most mundane details of everyday life will have plenty to ponder with Price’s ideas about the therapeutic value of forgetting.
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