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The Mystery of S., The Man With an Impossible Memory

Discussion in 'TUG Lounge' started by MULTIZ321, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. MULTIZ321

    MULTIZ321 TUG Member

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    The Mystery of S., The Man With an Impossible Memory
    By Reed Johnson/ Page-Turner/ Books/ The New Yorker/ newyorker.com

    "On an April afternoon in 1929, a timid-looking man with a broad face appeared at Moscow’s Academy of Communist Education and asked to see a memory specialist. The man, who would become known in the psychological literature as S., had been sent by his boss, a section editor at a Moscow newspaper where S. was a reporter. That morning, the editor had noticed that S. did not take any notes when the daily assignments were made. When he confronted S. about this, S. explained that he didn’t need to write anything down; he simply remembered. The editor picked up a newspaper and read at length from it, challenging S. to repeat everything back to him. When S. did so verbatim, the editor sent him to have his head examined.

    The researcher who met with S. that day was twenty-seven-year-old Alexander Luria, whose fame as a founder of neuropsychology still lay before him. Luria began reeling off lists of random numbers and words and asking S. to repeat them, which he did, in ever-lengthening series. Even more remarkably, when Luria retested S. more than fifteen years later, he found those numbers and words still preserved in S.’s memory. “I simply had to admit that the capacity of his memory had no distinct limits,” Luria writes in his famous case study of S., “The Mind of a Mnemonist,” published in 1968 in both Russian and English. In the book, Luria describes how S., desperate to purge his mind of unwanted recollections, turned to writing down everything he wanted to forget on slips of paper, in the hope that he might somehow offload these memories. When this failed, he lit the slips of paper on fire and watched them burn to ash, also to no avail...."

    [​IMG]


    The neuropsychologist Alexander Luria’s case study of Solomon Shereshevsky helped spark a myth about a man who could not forget. But the truth is more complicated.

    Illustration by Leigh Guldig


    Richard
     
  2. Patri

    Patri Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    That would be a curse.
     
  3. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Remarkable, but certainly as much a curse as a blessing. How would you like to remember every place you parked your cir, or every hand of cards you'd ever been dealt? There is good reason to forget and not clutter your mind with piles and piles of useless information. The magic of human memory is to be able to catalog what to remember and what to forget.

    Jim
     
  4. RonB

    RonB TUG Member

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    There are a number of documented cases. 60 Minutes did a story on several of them, including the actress MaryLu Henner. She could even tell you what she wore or what she ate for any date.
     

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