Thanks for the Memories (±x)
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“We must never forget the lessons of the past in our quest for the future.” – JSRDS
Baby’s First Words
Thoughts not words in my case – one of my earliest memories (no it was not ‘time to get out of this pool and now comes the smelly/squashy bit’) is seeing geckos on the walls at my grandmother’s house (Marion de Saram) in St Joseph’s Place Grandpass, Colombo 14, Sri Lanka and saying ‘ooh uppa’. I was about 250 days old.
From that point onwards I can remember many thousands of my life’s 16,500 days or so in unusual detail. I am not referring to just the events of the day that involved me – I can also remember what strangers were doing around me and often what they were wearing or the song playing on the radio.
Hyperthymesia is the condition of possessing an extremely detailed autobiographical memory. People with hyperthymesia remember an abnormally vast number of their life experiences.
American neurobiologists Elizabeth Parker, Larry Cahill, and James McGaugh (2006) identified two defining characteristics of hyperthymesia: spending an excessive amount of time thinking about one’s past, and displaying an extraordinary ability to recall specific events from one’s past. The word “hyperthymesia” derives from Ancient Greek: hyper- (“excessive”) and thymesis (“remembering”).
The memories I recall tend to be personal, autobiographical accounts of both significant and mundane events in my life. This extensive and highly unusual memory does not derive from the use of mnemonic strategies; it is encoded involuntarily and retrieved automatically. The entire process is subconscious, and often irritating as I just remember everything and continually cross-reference it 🙂
Hyperthymesia gives rise to enhanced episodic memory as well.
Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events (times, places, associated emotions, and other contextual who, what, when, where, why knowledge) that can be explicitly stated or recalled. It is the collection of past personal experiences that occurred at a particular time and place. For example, if one remembers the party on his or her 6th birthday, this is an episodic memory. They allow an individual to figuratively travel back in time to remember the event that took place at that particular time and place.
Quite a lot of my LinkedIn articles demonstrate features of exceptional memory, such as:-
and what DCI Chris Harding was wearing in this:-
Successful People Move On, Apparently
Not necessarily – given the amount of data that I am remembering at a given time, the amount stored historically is absolutely enormous compared to that being stored in the present. As such I am literally living in the past and it is not possible for me to disconnect from trauma.
However my inability to dissociate means that I am forced to come to terms with the traumatic events soon after they occur, so cannot be floored by them at a later point in time.
An excellent example of this is me being put into a Psychiatric Facility on 17 December 2015 – I had already licked my wounds within 12hrs and was planning my exit strategy whereas most people would have required days to come to terms with the situation first.
Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. People with dissociative disorders escape reality in ways that are often involuntary and unhealthy and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.
At Barlborough Hall School in 1983, I recall reading Escape from Kraznir as well as Walter Mitty in Mr Anthony Lowery’s Upper Elements ‘S’. In this latter book Walter had a boring life and to escape from it, so he conjured up exciting adventures.
For some reason I am often incorrectly labelled as a ‘James Bond wannabe’ because of my apparent ‘adventures’. As it happens I know virtually nothing about MI6 but for reasons above, in which my actual memories are taking up space, there is no room for boredom and certainly no ability for me to dissociate from reality.
Given the fact that I live in the past due to the volume of memories then it means my ‘stories’ are actual memories – this is particularly shocking when I am talking about military intelligence, fake bank operations and improvised explosive devices – IEDs 🙂
Dissociative disorders usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay. Symptoms — ranging from amnesia to ‘007 alternate identities’ — depend in part on the type of dissociative disorder presented. Times of stress can temporarily worsen symptoms, making them more obvious.
And if the methods of attack would force me to rely on tactical experience that I have, then the response from me would be excellent, I would not break a sweat and would lead to success – which it did much to the annoyance of my enemies.
As I am unable to disconnect from my memories, good and bad, I am unable to suppress them as a defence mechanism. That also means that the alternate identities cannot apply be assumed by me either.
Since I am continually bathed in memories they are not worrying, which means self-harm and suicidal tendencies are not something that I would suffer from even in times of acute stress – usually involving my parents’ attempts at controlling me.
This in itself contradicts the lies that various psychiatrists have put on bogus medical reports as well as hallucinations that I apparently have – once again they are not possible because of how my brain is wired.
Brown Parent SyndromeTM (“BPS”)
BPS is something I coined in the eighties and is a series of disorders that my parents suffer from. Both of them continually use dissociation as a defense mechanism, pathologically and involuntarily, and their continual denials is the thing that I find incredibly irritating.
Another related issue is CeylonSyndromeTM – I, as discoverer, will write about both at some point, and both are irritating, sickening and funny at the same time 🙂
Another type of memory that I have is Eidetic Memory. 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. It is not perfect, as it is subject to distortions and additions (like episodic memory), and vocalization interferes with the memory.”
An eidetic memory is perfect for surveillance operations as I can remember car number plates, their drivers, the drivers’ driving style, when riders of motorbikes have been switched, their helmets and GPS co-ordinates 🙂
As a witness it is absolutely invaluable too which is why my adversaries have a massive problem – they could not dismiss the volume of evidence so they decided to wipe it and say I was mad 🙂
Quality x Quantity
So given the fact that my memory is Hyperthymestic as well as Eidetic, to say ‘Joe’s head is full of useless thoughts’ is quite accurate 🙂
In one sense it is a lot like Interpol’s relational databases (I saw the file structures in Hong Kong in April 2014) in which they hold a lot of information and are able to respond to queries in rapid time, despite concurrently receiving terabytes of new material parts of which are indexed in realtime…
And finally whilst I have often been incorrectly labelled as autistic, I do not have the traits. So if someone asks me which day of the week was 10 April 1953 or what is 39673 x 28582 I have absolutely no clue 🙂
to be continued…
Joseph S R de Saram (JSRDS)
Other articles in this series:-