A Photographic (Eidetic) Memory IX
Bill Long 11/18/07
As I was digesting and posting the last few essays it dawned on me that Julie's story ought to be investigated by those who claim they are "experts" in memory. At least their grad students should check it out. For all our purported interest in not leaving any child behind, what about our desire to see if adults are summarily cut off in our society because people haven't been able to present their stories? So, as a way of getting out Julie's story at this (non-scientific) level, I kept asking her questions.
3. I would encourage you to read the "Wikipedia" article on eidetic memory. The thesis of whoever wrote that piece is that such a memory probably doesn't exist or it is extremely rare if it does. Your opening email to me said that it, though rare, was not uncommon. How do you deal with those who claim that such a memory doesn't really exist? Have you met others with this ability?
"I may get carried away with my answers to question # 3. But before I begin, I will answer another question you had in #1. –Whether or not I need people with whom to react- I’ve learned to feel quite comfortable without the interaction of other people. But there are times when I think it might be nice to be able to converse with another person (outside my immediate family) and share different things. I rather enjoyed talking with my psychologist all those years and I sometimes miss that interaction. In the beginning of therapy, I was very distrustful and I gave him many “weather conversations.” Later, when I began to trust him, we were able to communicate. There is a very big difference between the two.
Also, I failed to answer another one of your questions regarding whether or not I share my eidetic abilities with anyone. Only with my sixteen year old daughter who still lives with me, and through e-mail correspondence with people who are interested in the subject. My daughter is in the beginning stages of eidetic imagery and I am pleased to inform you that she is progressing in this area. Probably because we play a lot of memory games and I’ve been teaching her tricks of the trade."
Now she will get to my question, even though her preliminary answer begs some more questions, also....
"3. The only reason eidetic imagery is considered “rare” is because not enough people come forward and talk about this ability [Note--many scholars would disagree with Julie here, but I think that is a good reason to put her at the table in a conversation, don't you?] I mulled this over for awhile and came up with some good reasons for this.
When one considers just how much abuse goes on in this world, it’s easy to understand why people suffer with traumatic memories. Those who harbor these memories in their head may not be willing to share their past experiences. Painful memories usually get buried away somewhere, or “blocked out” from the person’s awareness. Out of sight, out of mind. For those who are aware of their traumatic memories, it’s very possible that the person is “seeing” the memory inside their mind. But the person may not mention that fact and the visual memory is not reported.
*Another reason is society’s stereotyping of mental illness. Labels can lead to misunderstanding and people may fear being labeled with a name that injures their reputation or jeopardizes them in some way. So they keep silent.
*There is also the fact that many people may not even be aware that their mind is eidetic. They may think, as I did, that all human brains operate in the same way. So they take their visual memories for granted and never say anything.
*Lack of education or misleading information are more reasons that people don’t come forward with their visual abilities.
*Another crucial reason people hold back on mentioning their visual talents is fear of ridicule or abandonment by their family or friends. Quite often, when one mentions an extraordinary ability that goes beyond the comprehension of another, the person is avoided as if they had bubonic plague. People end up hiding their special talents so others won’t feel afraid and maybe desert them.
To me, the only expert on eidetic imagery is the person who has it. [My note: I think that a sympathetic researcher without prejudice might be able to help clarify its scope and extent]. The proof is in the pudding, but it may be that the person who is eidetic is the only one who gets to taste it.
I researched some sites on eidetic imagery and came
across some interesting statements.
“While many people demonstrate extraordinary memory abilities, it is unlikely that true eidetic memory, if it exists at all, is found in adults.” I burst out laughing on this one! [Note: This is a quotation from the Wikipedia article]
“Overall, there are not conclusive data that would support any benefits from visual mnemonics.” With that kind of mentality, there may never be any conclusive data at all! As far as benefits go, I do believe I have enriched the lives of readers in the Northeast Kingdom with my cartoons and stories. I benefit from my visual skills and share those benefits with others who benefit. A chain reaction of eidetic imagery [Note--I believe that scientists often use the weak claim of 'no data' to hide either a laziness, an inbred distrust of a phenomena or a failure to be creative. Take the case of autism. Take the issue of various therapies for brain tumors--especial the Blood Brain Barrier Disruption work that has been going on for 25 years now by Dr. Edward Neuwelt, which Medicare recently decided to "defund" because of "lack of data."]
Your question on how I deal with those who claim that such a memory doesn’t really exist? I’ll quote what Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) said in the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“You never really understand a person until you
consider things from his point of view. Until you
climb inside his skin and walk around in it.”
What do you think so far, readers?
Copyright © 2004-2008 William R. Long