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They Can Remember Every Day Of Their Life — Gift Or Curse?

(Townsquare Media)

It’s a condition called Hyperthymesia. It’s a combination of two Ancient Greek words: Hyper meaning “excessive” and thymesis meaning “remembering.” Technically it’s someone who has an extremely detailed autobiographical memory. Basically they can remember every day of their life in almost perfect detail. They can also tell you about public events they may have read about or experienced that day.

It’s pretty rare. There are only about 30 people in this country that have it. They’re different from people who have trained themselves to memorize numbers or facts. People with Hyperthymesia can look at a date and immediately recall where they were and what they were doing that day. One woman was given a date – February 5th, 1980. The first thing she said “That was a Tuesday” and began to recall everything she did that day.

Their memories of things they experienced is crystal clear. For most of them their catalog of lifetime memories begin somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14.

They have an unusual obsession with dates, but they’re not considered autistic. In fact, most of these people don’t have a very good memory for basic facts and figures.

Is it a gift or a curse? Most of them consider it somewhere in between. On the extreme end one of them says it’s a burden because it’s “non-stop, uncontrollable and totally exhausting.” She says she gets lost in remembering making it hard to deal with the present or plan for the future because she’s so busy living in the past.

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