The condition that lets one individual remember all the memories of his or her life since they have grown consciousness is known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory or HSAM. A person who has this condition never forgets almost anything happened in their lives; they are even able to remember their dreams too. HSAM is ‘total recall’ and not like it was shown in the movie that an external situation triggered it, it’s completely internal where the mind can recall any personal memory at the person’s will. This is a sporadic condition, with fewer than 100 people in the entire world with an official diagnosis of this condition exists.
Our memory is controlled by the activity of the amygdala, which operates when we experience something stressful both positive or/and negative to ensure that the brain learns the incident and its particular importance.
Not all of us could remember our first memory, and the standard answer we will give will be a vague one like a childhood birthday or a day out or anything that the brain vividly remembers, and it will be filled with cliches and is probably completely inaccurate. That’s just the way human memory works, and it tends to fade over time.
However, Rebecca Sharrock is one of those people who have HSAM. She can recollect every single day of her life since being a newborn child. She can recall every dream she ever experiences and can re-experience pain and re-taste food.
Speaking of her experiences, she said, “It is strange that I don’t recall the experience of actually being born. My recollections are in chronological order, even though I know that they go back to when I was just 12 days old. The reason, I remember the experience of having a photo taken of me in the front seat of our car, which was dated December 23rd, 1989.”
As a baby, Rebecca’s first realisation was crying out loudly could result in food brought to her by her mother. Before then, she would only cry out of distress or confusion, but everything quickly changed when she understood she could get some food out of her crying.
Rebecca has not got the photographic memory of Mike from Suits, nor is it like a mind palace like that of Sherlock’s, but something just as selective as Ted Mosby’s from HIMYM – who only remembers everything with dates and other details. Imagine a life where you can relive all your childhood memories again, relive those past moments, those laughs that would redefine happiness. The taste of your mother made food, the warmth of someone’s arms holding us tight or going out to swim in a river, on a summer afternoon.
Rebecca who is a resident of Queensland speaks on dealing with her HSAM and the other conditions she deals with every day. She is even writing a book on her life called – My Life Is A Puzzle.