Photographic (Eidetic) Memory II
Bill Long 11/15/07
Getting to Know Julie
I decided to probe more deeply into Julie's claim of being an "adult eidetiker"--one who can basically "photograph" scenes and bring them alive in her memory. I first wanted her to explain herself a little more thoroughly. Here is how she responded:
"I thought I should at least tell you a little about myself, so you don't think I'm a fraud or a quack or anything. Perhaps, a little mad at times, but genius and madness go hand in hand. I'm an honest person, sometimes a little too honest for my own good. But I've been through too much in my life to cover up the truth and resort to lying. I'm a 54 year old woman who has walked along the road less traveled in life and I picked up a few bits of knowledge along the way. First of all, I'm a single mother of five children. All grown...thank god... Motherhood is a feat in itself. I have been a cartoonist and writer with a newspaper here in XXXX for 20 years. Several of my cartoons won first place awards from XXXX. Cartoons dealing with serious issues facing all of humanity. Because I have bouts of hypergraphia [i.e., the need to write all the time] I have written so many journals, stories, essays and full compositions (including two books) that I may have to rent a storage unit. Sometimes I write so fast and fluently, that I think my pen gives off sparks! I believe my frenzied writing (midnight madness) has directly contributed to my eidetic abilities. Being a human camcorder, I happen to videotape everything I see...soundtracks included. Playback is continuous and it's all displayed on the theater screen of the mind. (my indoor movie house)
I will answer all your questions in my next e-mail.
Here are my first questions to her, with her answers bolded.
1. When did you first learn of this gift?
"I have had an eidetic mind since childhood (age 3)
but I was not aware this ability was known as eidetic
imagery until I was around 35 years old."
2. Does your mind work in this way with all sorts of data or only those things in which you have a pronounced "interest?"
"Everything I scan in my environment gets recorded and filmed in Technicolor. (Audio as well) If I scan too quickly, I get most of the general picture, but I miss some of the details. When I am exposed to stimulus repeatedly, and for long periods of time, my mind captures the details more accurately. Example: I go grocery shopping according to the film in my head. It’s like being a ghost and walking up and down the aisles looking at the products I need. In this way, I don’t forget what I need to buy. (Remote Viewing)
Just recently, a Walmart store changed everything on
the shelves and relocated products to different aisles. Now I have to re-film the entire store! Another example is maps or a certain location I travel to. Once the area is scanned, I always see the geographic location in my mind. I intentionally make
landmark memories, so I don’t get lost.
3. Has this kind of memory for you proven to be more of a blessing than a curse?
"At first, I considered pictorial memories to be negative to my well-being, because being an eyewitness to traumatic events [Note--she was abused as a child, which comes out later] has a long lasting impression upon the mind and it creates a chain reaction of negative feelings which effect one’s psyche and behavior. I cannot delete any of the film I have stored, nor would I want to. The positive side of being eidetic is that I continuously learn from the video footage inside my mind. I get to study and analyze the film and draw my own conclusions. (Mr. Einstein worked in a similar fashion, except he scrutinized his evaluations and calculations on a chalkboard) My visual work shows up on an OmniMax theater screen. Eidetic imagery enhances the stories I create, because I get immersed within the story and the visual scenes unfold before my eyes as I create them. During this process, I am learning from what I see and I am able to be more descriptive about the theme of the story, its plot, cast of characters, etc. When I create stories, I turn to the MGM studio department of my mind and unleash my visual talent."
4. Have you felt misunderstood because of this capability?
"Most definitely! The genius inside everyone has a habit of hiding and when this side surfaces, one often
encounters ignorance and ridicule. No wonder this side of a person hides. In my case, I view two different worlds; an internal visual world and an external visual world. Unfortunately, there are times when I’d rather just remain in my internal world. At least in there, I’m not persecuted."
5. Have you thought of ways that we as a society, in general, can benefit from those who have such exceptional memories?
"In the story, The Allegory of the Cave [Note--she is referring to Plato's story in Book VII of the Republic] the released prisoner was told that it was not enough that he had been enlightened, but that he needed to go out into his community and share what he had learned.
Innovative and creative ideas are born when a person is nurtured in a safe environment, where one is not afraid to express their inner talent and share knowledge with their community. There are many benefits in having an eidetic mind. Example: While I was in college, I found it easier to visualize the subject matter I was learning and remember it. During exams, I would pull up my cue cards I had scanned and see the definitions on my indoor theater screen. Also during class time, the teacher and the entire classroom was being filmed inside my mind, so playback offered me the chance to study at my leisure. I would review the video footage and pick out what I considered most important regarding the subject matter at hand. When someone is telling a story or teaching something, I visualize the whole scene while I’m listening. When I have trouble understanding something, I write the problem down on my inner chalkboard and then think of different solutions to solve the problem. My visual approach usually works.
Another benefit to being eidetic is that a picture says a thousand words. By looking at the film inside, I can describe people, places and action. Visual scenes trigger off different emotions and one’s sensory system is heightened. A pictorial mind allows me to be more sensitive to my environment. I can better understand important things in life on a global scale, rather than just in my backyard. Remote viewing gives me the chance to overlook the trivial things in life and zoom in on what really matters."
I just ran into a man who seemingly had Asperger's syndrome (essay is here) and he could remember many things with wonderful precision. Do you know of that syndrome...and do you have that, too? She didn't get to that question...yet.
I had to keep asking other questions, as you might do, too, but first I let Julie tell me another story. The next essay covers that.
Copyright © 2004-2008 William R. Long