If you are a fan of or have seen many episodes of the television comedy series, “The Big Bang Theory”, then you know of the character of Dr. Sheldon Cooper who from time to time will comment (or usually, correct others) on his eidetic memory.
Eidetic memory is ability to memorize the pictures in the smallest details. A man having such kind of the memory provides the projecting of the visual picture on the inside screen. Then the received image is read and analyzed. A man with eidetic memory can easily operate the buffer located between the visual channel and the rest of thinking organs. The pictures in this buffet of the common people are lightened up only for a moment and then dispersed, transferring the information further into the brains. An Eidetic keeps the pictures and can call them making the mind to analyze the information again.
It is known that many artists and draughtsman have ability to memorize the pictures and to reproduce them from memory. It indicates that figurative memory is not inborn but acquired virtue of a man and it can be developed.
The ancient oriental scientists ascertained that all people could be divided into four types – artists and thinkers. The thinkers easily memorize logical information, artists – visual information.
Since Aristotle’s time our civilization worked out its way mainly on development of the left logical hemisphere and it resulted in the loss by the major part of the mankind their ability to use their sub consciousness.
On the level of conscious activity only 10% of our brains is in operation, while subconscious activity counts to 90% of the human potential. Logical strategies of thinking use only small part of our abilities.
Found in an extremely small portion of the population, photographic (eidetic) memories continue to amaze and inspire. This phenomenon is often found in young children, however, most people lose this ability by the time they reach adulthood. Some speculate that this occurs because of a shift from visual to verbal memorization techniques. Young children tend to use pictures or images they’ve seen to recall information, but as they become more adept at speaking, they begin to use actual words to memorize things. For instance, when studying for a test or giving a presentation, simply memorizing a few key words that will help remember everything one needs to know. In contrast there were monks that lived during the Middle Ages that made their memories better by envisioning images in their minds that would serve as a connection between unrelated information, and apparently this method allowed them to remember vast amounts of knowledge.
However, with each time that I hear that phrase of “having an eidetic memory” I often wonder whether or not I qualify in this case.
Whenever I am around my own family, I will come up with memories from the past and it would seem as if I am the only one that would remember the event ever occurring. And each member of my immediate family gets their minds blown by how much detail that I can remember from each event that is being discussed.
And even if one or more of them remembers what I am talking about in general, they do not recall or remember the more specific details.
Let me share with you a story to work as an example of this:
During the Christmas holiday of 2007, my family and I were all together around the table going through old things. Things that my parents had assumed that belonged to each of my siblings and I. For the most part, they got it right. But when it came time for really old photographs, my step-mother had actually wrote on the back of the photograph that I my younger brother was standing next to my older brother with their arms around one another’s shoulders.
This was not true.
Whom she thought was the older brother, was actually me. In the photograph, it was my younger brother and I.
There was a curtain in the background, which was the curtain to the sliding glass patio door that we had when I was growing up in my birthplace of Arkansas.
My younger brother and I were wearing matching white t-shirts and I had this goofy ass look on my face as I attempted to look like I was “growling” at the camera. I did that as a child because at the time, my teeth were a little pointed and I always think that I looked like a vampire. So I was trying to growl at the vampire like I thought at the time, that a vampire would do.
When I had explained all of this, there was not a sound in the room. Everyone was totally speechless. Up until the point where my father finally spoke up and said, “You and that steel trap memory of yours!!”. Unfortunately, the rest of that conversation wasn’t as lively and fun as I had hoped. I wasn’t trying to show off or anything. I was simply stating that I remember when that photograph was taken, and no… the other person in the photograph was me and not my older brother.
And this probably serves me well as I have in the past written about some wild stories in my life. My memory is strong and I do remember a lot of details about specific people, places, things, and events.
But does that mean that I have an eidetic memory? Or even a photographic memory? I cannot say for sure.
I know that there are some small tests online that a person can take to see if whether or not their memory is a photographic memory. I have not bothered with them though.
As an added bonus: the earliest memory that I do have was crawling on the floor in the kitchen, staring upwards at a calendar on the wall that was above the trash can. It was 1978.
A lot of people that I get to share my life stories with, particularly when it deals with my family or people that I have known when I was growing up as a child often suggest that I write a book about my life experiences and memories. I doubt that anyone would buy it.
The more and more that I watch “The Big Bang Theory”, the more and more I hear this term or phrase. It gets me to think of whether or not I fit that description. I’ve not made up my mind to decide on whether or not I want to pursue the truth on this matter. I just really don’t want to lose some of the memories that I do have as a child.