The Woman Who Can't Forget
The Extraordinary Story of Living With the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science : A MemoirBook - 2008
A first-person account of the author's experiences with her extraordinary photographic memory describes her efforts to come to terms with abilities that cause her to remember events and details with complete recall, in a memoir that also relates her participation in extensive scientific studies. 125,000 first printing.
People might envy someone with such an extraordinary memory that she has been studied by neuroscientists, until they learn that Jill Price's ability extends only to details of her own life, sometimes haunts her, and does not to apply to memorizing facts. In collaboration with an established writer, this Los Angeles resident relates how she has coped since adolescence with hyperthymestic syndrome (defined in the glossary), in the context of current understanding of how memory works. This first-known case was documented in a 2006 journal article. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Describes the author's efforts to come to terms with abilities that cause her to remember events and details with complete recall, in a memoir that also relates her participation in extensive scientific studies.
Simon and Schuster
Jill Price has the first diagnosed case of a memory condition called "hyperthymestic syndrome" -- the continuous, automatic, autobiographical recall of every day of her life since she was fourteen. Give her any date from that year on, and she can almost instantly tell you what day of the week it was, what she did on that day, and any major world event or cultural happening that took place, as long as she heard about it that day. Her memories are like scenes from home movies, constantly playing in her head, backward and forward, through the years; not only does she make no effort to call her memories to mind, she cannot stop them.
The Woman Who Can't Forget is the beautifully written and moving story of Jill's quest to come to terms with her extraordinary memory, living with a condition that no one understood, including her, until the scientific team who studied her finally charted the extraordinary terrain of her abilities. Her fascinating journey speaks volumes about the delicate dance of remembering and forgetting in all of our lives and the many mysteries about how our memories shape us.
As we learn of Jill's struggles first to realize how unusual her memory is and then to contend, as she grows up, with the unique challenges of not being able to forget -- remembering both the good times and the bad, the joyous and the devastating, in such vivid and insistent detail -- the way her memory works is contrasted to a wealth of discoveries about the workings of normal human memory and normal human forgetting. Intriguing light is shed on the vital role of what's called "motivated forgetting"; as well as theories about childhood amnesia, the loss of memory for the first two to three years of our lives; the emotional content of memories; and the way in which autobiographical memories are normally crafted into an ever-evolving and empowering life story.
Would we want to remember so much more of our lives if we could? Which memories do our minds privilege over others? Do we truly relive the times we remember most vividly, feeling the emotions that coursed through us then? Why do we forget so much, and in what ways do the workings of memory tailor the reality of what's actually happened to us in our lives?
In The Woman Who Can't Forget, Jill Price welcomes us into her remarkable life and takes us on a mind-opening voyage into what life would be like if we didn't forget -- a voyage after which no reader will think of the magical role of memory in our lives in the same way again.
From the critics
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I read this book because I thought I had a great memory. I am always quizzing my family: “what were you doing 13 years ago today?” usually recalling special events. But I found out my memory is nothing compared to the author of this book. She can spew out details for any date thrown at her, including mundane things like what she ate. She indeed had a fascinating life being the daughter of an entertainment agent, living in NYC and California, which offered brushes with Ed Sullivan. But as a reader of her memoir, I found her life not so charmed and at exhausting at times with her type A personality, being a homebody, self-centeredness and resistance to change. The fascinating part of the book was the scientific facts it was mixed with. In a test, she wrote done the actual dates of Easter for 23 years and what she was doing in less than 10 minutes. Although memory shapes us, it had controlled her.
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