chapter  4
Mechanisms underlying recovered memories
ByELKE GERAERTS, LINSEY RAYMAEKERS, HARALD MERCKELBACH
Pages 18

What would it be like to remember each thing that ever occurred to you? Although no such person has yet been found, there are some people with an astonishing autobiographical memory. Consider the example of AJ, a 42-year-old woman from California (Parker, Cahill, & McGaugh, 2006). AJ remembers every day of her life, since her teens, in extraordinary detail. When you mention any date over several decades to her, she is immediately able to mentally travel back to that day, imagining where she was, what she was doing, and what made the news that day. Just as though it happened yesterday. AJ reports that her personal memories are vivid, like “a running movie that never stops” (p. 35). You might think that having such an outstanding memory would be wonderful. AJ, however, says that it comes with a price. For example, when unpleasant things happen to her, AJ wants to forget, but she just cannot. She finds the continuous remindings very distracting and they “seem to rule her life” (p. 35). Clearly, AJ’s experience of life is very different from most people’s, and shows that a perfect memory can be troublesome: AJ is able to remember many happy times in life, but she is also often reminded of bad times.