What Effect Would TOTALLY Perfect Memory Have?

Gabe Velez III gvelez at richmond.infi.net
Thu Sep 12 15:49:28 EST 1996

Eric Manshun Choi wrote:
> I am in the process of writing a science fiction story in which one of
> the characters has the ability to literally remember EVERYTHING that he
> sees or reads.  For example, if he was walking down the street, he would
> remember how many cracks there were in the sidewalk, the number of cars
> that passed him, the make and color of each car, the license plates on
> the cars, how many people were in each car and what they looked like, etc.
> How would such an ability affect his mind?  Would he be able to cope, or
> would the overload of information drive him insane?
> Any input would be much appreciated.  Thank you very much!
> --
> Eric M. Choi                    | Author  of  "From a Stone",   in   the
> University of Toronto           | September issue of SCIENCE FICTION AGE
> Institute for Aerospace Studies | magazine.  Now available at bookstores
> emc at sdr.utias.utoronto.ca       | and newsstands.

	I have a cousin that is autistic. I saw a program on PBS which spoke
about this 'disease' or, probably more accurately, psychological
condition, whereby the autistic person was one who was experiencing all
of the sensory inputs at the same time.

	Our brains are marvelous in that there are 'sensory blockers' which
allow only a certain amount of sensory information to enter. Otherwise
out brains would overload. There would be imbalance.

	I would imagine that if such a person could exist, his physiology and
psyche would be such that he can deal with the influx of input and
organize it in a way which would not be overwhelming, and be able at
will to recall the information as needed and only what is needed, when
needed, as opposed to having the memories constantly floating around his
head at all times while new information was being input. After all, our
computers are capable of storing information in perfect form, as
detailed as we desire and as much as we can afford to buy for it, but we
look and process such data in chunks at a time, whichever data is
pertinent to the function at that time, in spite of
multitasking/multiprocessing. (Another possible trait which your
character can have!)

	On the other hand, I do know a couple of people who are remarkably
memory capable. One who could tell you where to find a particuler size
screw, by saying in which drawer, the count from a starting point where
the screw was. I.E, the second drawer from the left five screws from the
front right corner counting back to the rear. The other fellow can
verbatim tell you what a sentence said on what page, what paragraph, and
the date of which magazine he read something, however long ago it was.

	Like one of the repliers said, the second person has difficulty with
more abstract thinking. Basically, he swears by what he reads.

	Anyway I hope that the info above about my autistic cousin helps. I
also had the experience of working with autistic children. Forget about
the "Rain Man", although he did an incredibly good job. I cried. I
haven't seen an autistic child who was 'savant', even the mildly
autistic ones. Although I haven't seen all of them. I think they hyped
it up just for the movie. You know Hollywood.

	I am also getting one of my literary works published. So I would be
especally proud and glad to be of assistance to you.

Good luck!!

Gabe Velez III
Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield of Virginia
gvelez at richmond.infi.net

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