Old man with life-long memory problems
I am now aged 75, and only recently have I become aware of the extent of my poor memory and the consequences of that, throughout my entire personal and working lives.
Having never discussed whether or not I had a good memory with others, including my wife, I had, until recently, assumed mine was normal but maybe not quite as good as other people's who, I assumed, were simply much more intelligent that me!
Yes, to say the least, I developed an inferiority complex too.
Having given up work (at age 73), I made salutary discoveries about the actual extent and consequences of my poor memory. The really sad thing being that the nature of my job required (because of what I now know to have been caused by my inability to remember) many years of absolute concentration on my work, to the extent I completely neglected and ignored my wife and sons.
I didn't have time for them because I was always concentrating on and immersed in the problems of work. For hours on end, writing endless notes, being deep in thought and, endlessly, in my mind going over and over the facts associated with doing my job.
The realisation makes me feel sad, empty and guilty. Especially, when I realise, now, just how easily other colleagues dealt with their work loads.
I feel incredibly bad about it and have to ask, "What could I have done differently, had I really known that my general intelligence was probably reasonably normal but my great disadvantage was the lack of memory recall?"
Tracking back to my school life, of which I remember very little, of the few, one strong memory I have is of a very severe lady teacher ridiculing me because I couldn't remember the letter "I". I think I was 5 at the time! Of the remainder of my school and home life I remember very little.
The thought that haunts me now is related to my concern for any child, with a similar problem to mine, starting their lives without anyone being aware of the consequences of having a very poor memory and of it not being identified and support provided to help them deal with it and cope normally with life.
Especially to help them realise they are not stupid or less intelligent than others but simply have this awful condition to cope with.
Apology if this sounds a bit garbled but I hope the gist will make sense.Doug's Reply.
You are exactly right to say there are others - maybe a great many others - who live their lives not realising their natural memory power is very limited compared to their peers. Some like you
realize it later in life, others are blessed to figure it out earlier
, while undoubtedly many more never do.
beat yourself up with regrets. No one discovered or explained this or supported you in this matter when you were young. How can you be blamed for the way God or Fate made you?
It seems to me you did the best you could given the hand you were dealt.
There is a Catch-22 about native memory ability in Western society that I have noticed which is relevant here.
People with automatic, strong memory strength have trouble empathizing with those who have a weak natural memory. They can't grasp what it is like, and, often, they become impatient with them.
And I think that's why memory techniques are generally not taught in schools.
I suspect most teachers and education administrators are people with naturally strong memories. Otherwise they'd probably not have chosen academia - i.e., the learning professions - as their career path.
The very people who manage the education system may thus wear figurative blinders with regard to others' memory power.
There are cruel ones, like the teacher who mocked you as a child. But most, I think, just shake their heads if a child fails to remember the lesson.
I am generalizing, but I suspect their assumption is that those who can't remember things just don't care
or aren't trying hard enough.
But as you know from experience, there can be more to the picture than simply raw effort expended. You clearly put more "effort" into remembering the facts for your profession than many of your colleagues.
Yes, it's true your life may have gone differently had someone taught you memory techniques
, or spent more time with you one-on-one. Or, had a doctor perform a neurological assessment to determine if any medical condition is the source of the problem.
But today, because you took action and told your story, you can take heart in this: you have further raised awareness of this issue
Parents and young people who read this story may experience an "aha" moment. They may recognize in themselves or their children some of what you've described as true about your own brain and poor native memory ability. And they may choose to do something about it.
I wish schools would perform memory testing. Not to profile, but to identify those who need extra assistance with memory work. And I wish they would teach memory techniques as a standard part of the curriculum. Maybe some day.
As for your own situation, it sounds like you did the best you could under the circumstances, even if the result wasn't ideal. I feel certain your story here will make a difference in some child's life in the future.
This is information only. It is not medical advice
, diagnosis, or treatment.