Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hyperthymesia or Hyperthymestic syndrome

Here’s another one of those fascinating and interesting neurological peculiarities, along with Asperger syndrome, synaesthesia and Tourette’s. Just call me a neurocase.

Forgetfulness is key to a healthy mind
by Jessica Marshall.
New Scientist. February 16th 2008.

The man with an uncanny memory
by Doug Erickson.
Wisconsin State Journal. February 26th 2008.

Hyperthymesia. (accessed 2008). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Unforgettable: the documentary.

A case of unusual autobiographical remembering
by Elizabeth S. Parker, Larry Cahill and James L. McGaugh.

Neurocase. Volume 12 Issue 1 February 2006. p. 35 – 49.

The woman who can't forget: the extraordinary story of living with the most remarkable memory known to science - a memoir
by Jill Price (with Bart Davis)
Free Press, May 2008.

and this is an excellent book about human memory in general, but does not mention hyperthymestic syndrome:

How the mind forgets and remembers: the seven sins of memory
by Daniel L. Schacter
Souvenir Press, 2001.

I'm quite surprised that even in the few things that I have read about this condition, I've seen no mention of Solomon Shereshevskii, who was "S" in the book The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book About a Vast Memory by A. R. Luria, and I've also seen no mention of Franco Magnani, who is the subject of the chapter The Landscape of His Dreams in the book An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks.

Here are Lili Marlene's higly speculative predictions about this condition:

1. At first it will be regarded as an incredibly rare phenomenon, but in a few years time, if researched in large studies that sample random selections of the population, will be found to be merely uncommon.

2. A good core definition of the condition exists, but individual cases will be found to be heterogenous, with other neurological or psychiatric conditions interacting with Hyperthymestic syndrome, so the boundaries of the definition of this condition will remain unclear.

3. The term Hyperthymestic syndrome will lose popularity in favour of Hyperthymesia, as it will be found that there isn't the clustering of a large number of separate symptoms that can't be otherwise explained, that is the usual thing with medical syndromes.

4. The assertion in popular literature that subjects who have Hyperthymestic syndrome are not autistic will be challenged.

5. Hyperthymestic syndrome will be found to be associated with the relatively indiscriminate or obsessive collecting behaviour that is found in some people diagnosed with OCD, Obessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), Asperger syndrome or even paranoia. Some famous people who possibly had this collecting habit were Andy Warhol, William Shockley, Screaming Lord Sutch and Stanley Kubrick, an interesting collection of personalities for sure. Shockley appears to have had the obsessive interest in autobiographical details that is a characteristic of Hyperthymestic syndrome, but as he is now dead, I doubt that any new evidence for or against Shockley having the condition could be found.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

When you take a good hard look at some prominent individuals, it appears that Australian public life is choc full of monotropes and misanthropes.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Just a brief reminder that I am always adding to my many lists and articles, so if there is any part of this blog that you have found useful or interesting in the past, it may be worth a revisit.

One list, with references, that I have added to recently is my list of diagnostic, administrative, research, historical and informal labels that have been given in the past to people on the autistic spectrum:
It’s interesting to see that in a recent research paper some scientists have speculated that intellectually gifted people with savant skills and autistic people who have savant skills may have the same neurological structure as the basis of such skills. I've been saying for years that high intelligence and genetic autism are conditions that are linked closely.

Casanova, M F, Switala, AE, Trippe, J, Fitzgerald, M. (2007) Comparative minicolumnar morphometry of three distinguished scientists. Autism. 2007 Nov;11(6):557-69.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It' Valentine's Day, and husband and I have not really done anything particularly romatic, as usual. You know what I think is romantic? Flowers are nice, but they are a bit of an extravagance. Spending time together at some nice place is a nice thought, but what sane person would be willing to look after with the brats while we're out? The most romantic thing that ever happened to me was the night when I met a fellow at a horribly noisy party who was obviously a misanthrope, a curmudgeon, a bit of a loner, and a little bit of a mysogynist, and he asked me "Can I see you again?"

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"Two obsessions are one too many."

- Dr James Watson, Nobel Prize winner, a quote that I believe is from his latest book "Avoid Boring People"

More witty and thought-provoking quotes can be found at:
Quotes that caught Lili’s eye

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Biographies, autobiographies and biographical books about famous or important people diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition or subject of published speculation about whether they are/were on the autistic spectrum

Bazzana, Kevin (2004) Wondrous strange: the life and art of Glenn Gould. Yale University Press.

Bellamy, David (2002) A natural life: the autobiography of David J. Bellamy OBE, Hon FLS, an Englishman. Arrow Books.

Bellamy, David (2003) Jolly green giant: the autobiography of David J. Bellamy OBE, Hon FLS, an Englishman. (large print edition, first published 2002) Chivers Press.
[appears to be the same book as A Natural Life]

Brian, Denis (2005) The unexpected Einstein: the real man behind the icon. J. Wiley, 2005.
[a book that covers some of the mysteries, controversies and unattractive aspects of Einstein and his life]

Brite, Poppy Z. (1997) Courtney Love: the real story. Orion Books.

Edmonds, David and Eidinow, John (2004) Bobby Fischer goes to war: the true story of how the Soviets lost the most extraordinary chess match of all time. Faber and Faber, 2004.
[lots of interesting information about Fisher as a child and his mother in this book]

Fox, Karen C. and Keck, Aries (2004) Einstein: A to Z. J. Wiley, 2004.

Gleick, James (2003) Isaac Newton. Pantheon Books, 2003.

Goldsmith, Barbara (2005) Obsessive genius: the inner world of Marie Curie. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005.
[I believe the author thinks Curie had bipolar]

Grandin, Temple (1995) Thinking in pictures: and other reports from my life with autism. 1st edition. Doubleday. 1995.

Grandin, Temple (with Margaret Scariano) (1991) Emergence: Labeled Autistic. Arena Press, 1991.

Hanke, Ken (1999) Tim Burton: an unauthorized biography of the filmmaker. Renaissance Books, 1999.

Hough, Susan Elizabeth (2007) Richter’s scale: Measure of an earthquake, measure of a man. Princeton University Press, 2007.
[about Charles Richter]

Krull, Kathleen (2006) Isaac Newton. (illustrated by Boris Kulikov), Viking, 2006.
[junior biography in the Giants of Science series]

Levant, Oscar (1965) The memoirs of an amnesiac. G. P. Putnam. 1965.

Lomas, Robert (1999) The man who invented the twentieth century: Nikola Tesla, forgotten genius of electricity. Headline, 1999.

MacGregor, John M. (2002) Henry Darger: in the realms of the unreal. Delano Greenridge Editions.

Ostwald, Peter (1997) Glenn Gould: the ecstasy and tragedy of genius. W. W. Norton & Company. 1997.

Rivlin, Gary (1999) The plot to get Bill Gates: an irreverent investigation of the world's richest man and the people who hate him. Random House.

Sharpe, Graham (2005) The man who was Screaming Lord Sutch. Aurum Press. 2005.

Shurkin, Joel (2006) Broken genius : the rise and fall of William Shockley, creator of the Electronic Age. Macmillan, 2006.

Simkin, Benjamin (2001) Medical and musical byways of Mozartiana. Fithian Press. 2001.
[the author argues that Mozart had Tourette syndrome]

Tammet, Daniel (2006) Born on a blue day: a memoir of Asperger’s and an extraordinary mind. Hodder & Stoughton. 2006.

Tesla, Nikola (1977) Moji pronalasci = My inventions. [translated by Tomo Bosanac, Vanja Aljinovic] Skolska Knjiga, 1977.
[written in English and Serbo-Croation, despite the title this book includes a lot of autobiographical information]

Williams, Sam (2002) Free as in freedom: Richard Stallman’s crusade for free software. O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2002.
Online book:

Zehme, Bill (1999) Lost in the funhouse: the life and mind of Andy Kaufman. Fourth Estate Ltd.

This list is based on these two lists: