OCD for memories

It appears that the class is deeply entrenched in our “memory” phase of the semester.  Due to the constant recurrence of other themes, such as “nature vs nurture” and “animal vs human” I doubt that this is a topic we will easily climb out of.  And for good reason.  Are we our memories?  Can the self be defined without them?  Don’t even get me started.

One thing that was brought up in class, and again in Dereks blog post, was the concept of a perfect memory.  I remember hearing about this when I was younger, perhaps in elementary school, and that is probably why I dismissed it so quickly as nonsense.  It must be impossible for a someone to remember everything.  Wouldn’t these people have already taken over the world?

The first Sensation and Perception class of  the semester will teach you that there are an infinite number of stimuli in the world that our brain could be attending to at any given moment.  How could a brain encapsulate and remember everything?

Turns out, I was right:D  There is no such thing as a perfect memory.  Every brain has some limitations.  However some people stray so far from the norm that, from a neuropsychological perspective, their brains must be remembering or retrieving memories differently.  From the case studies I have read about so far, perfect memory is the product of a super anal filing system.  Even documents (memories) that no longer serve any purpose are held onto, but nobody really seems to know why.  One woman, AJ, describes it beautifully as “OCD of [her] memories.”


2 thoughts on “OCD for memories

  1. The brain does indeed have limitations. I think it would be incapacitating to encode all incoming stimuli at all times. We wouldn’t even be able to take a step because our brain would be too busy.


  2. Anyone see the show Hoarders? Sounds like these ‘perfect memory’ people have mental hoarding. I wonder if it interferes with them trying to retrieve a specific memory, like if it’s harder to wade through the junk to get to the episodic memory you want to retrieve.


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