HSAM and OCD

HSAM stands for Highly Superior Autobiographic Memory (You can learn more about HSAM by entering HSAM into the search block of the healthy memory blog).  There have been several television shows regarding HSAMers, which you might have seen.  If you ask these folks what they were doing on a particularly day they can provide a remarkably accurate summary  OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  A piece in the April 9, 2016 New Scientist titled “People who never forget their past could have unique kind of OCD).

The article summarized a couple of studies trying to determine what makes a person a HSAMer.  The research indicated that no particular ability underlies HSAM.  HSAMers  scored only slightly better, and only on certain tests, than a comparable control group.  The HSAMers and the comparable control group had comparable recall of events from the preceding week.  HSAMers,. however, had a far superior memory of the more distant past.  The conclusion was that HSAMers are no better at acquiring memories, but are much better at retaining memories.

The researchers did note that HSAMers often show obsessive compulsive behaviors.  The researchers do not believe that HSAMers do not actively try to memorize the past.  Rather they might accidentally strengthen their memories by habitually recalling and reflecting upon their own lives.

I was extremely gratified to read this explanation.  After reading Marilu Henners’ book “Total Memory Makeover” I had come to a similar conclusion.  Although Marilu Henner did not describe this as a technique she used, her past life was important to her and she had a tendency to review it.  She did find that being a HSAMer helped her as an actress.

Healthymemory is the polar opposite of an HSAMer.  If you asked him what today is, he would need to consult a calendar, so it is highly unlikely he would be able to tell you much about today ten years from now.

Be aware that very few people with OCD are HSAMers.  And Healthymemory would not regard habitually recalling and reflecting about one’s life to be a disorder.  Healthy memory thinks it is beneficial and knows of no negative side effects.   Some obsessive. behaviors can be beneficial.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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