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Total Recall: Blessed And Cursed By An Extraordinary Memory

Total Recall: Blessed And Cursed By An Extraordinary Memory

Have you ever wanted to have a photographic memory? Well, in that case you need to read the story of Jill Price. Jill Price knows everything about her life day to day, second to second. And, if you are to ask her pertaining to any day of her life, she comes in an answer in a heartbeat. She was born on December 30, 1965 in the New York City. And, she has almost clear memories since: she was just 18 months old. She always knew of her talent for remembering, she made lists, took pictures, and even passed the notes and ticket stub.

So, she was the first person ever to be diagnosed with HSAM. And, it is a condition she shares with almost 60 other known people.

What is HSAM?

HSAM is Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory.

Who diagnosed her?

Dr. James Mc Caugh was the Director of UC Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, in 1983 when he received the first email sent by Jill Price. At first Mc Caugh did not respond positively. However, when Jill Price replied that she is being able to run her entire life through her every day, the Doctor invited her to his office. And, they met. Undoubtedly, Jill Price stunned Mc Caugh with her answers.

Total Recall: Blessed And Cursed By An Extraordinary MemoryJill Price can remember every part of her life since she was 14 but considers her ability a curse as she cannot switch off. (Image Source)

Now, for the readers it is really pertinent to understand, that Mc Caugh has written more than 550 papers and books. And, his specialist subject is long term memory.

So, Mc Caugh organized a team to study Jill Price – Elizabeth Parker – a neurophycisist and Larry Cahill – a neurobiologist. And, then the team started, the real test. Jill Price was interrogated and questioned again and again. With time, it became rather clear that the autobiographical memory of her was definitely unmatched; however, she was better at remembering details associated with her personally.  So this implies that the details which were not interesting to her were obliterated just like the memory of normal people.

It was August 13, 2003 that is 3 years after she first came to McCaugh, that the entire findings till date was presented to the UCI medical community, in a large open forum. Price was also invited here.

  • A Case of Unusual Autobiographical Remembering was published in the Neurocase journal in February 2006.

Price fondly remembers the date of March 12, 2006. Following this day, that year the first newspaper article about “hyperthymesia” came out. Price was still unknown to the public, however, everyone from media to newspapers wanted to know about “AJ”- as she was known.

Total Recall: Blessed And Cursed By An Extraordinary Memory"My memories are like scenes from home movies of every day of my life," she writes, "constantly playing in my head, flashing forward and backward through the years relentlessly, taking me to any given moment, entirely of their own volition." (Image Source)

More people

It was then that emails began to drop in at McCaugh’s office from people, who either had this condition or knew someone who had it. So, the people diagnosed back then, were:-

  • Brad Williams
  • Radio announcer in Wisconsin
  • Rick Baron
  • Bob Petrella.

All of the above were interviewed and questioned the same manner, in which Jill Price was, and they all showed similar results.

In August 2011, a 60 minute program “memory wizards” which featured them expect Jill Price, was telecasted on Television. By, then everyone knew Jill Price. Here is one of the first video where Jill shows herself and shares her story:

Research

Researchers did notice some things about the HSAM subjects, some sort of obsessive behavior. However, even with the correlation the cause could not be ascertained. So, indeed this was tedious.

As for the subjects of HSAM, it is really difficult for them that they have even the worst of memories going in their head just as much as fondest ones. It is impossible to let go of any bad memory, and obliterating the bad ones is much much more difficult.

Total Recall: Blessed And Cursed By An Extraordinary Memory
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