The Woman who Can't Forget

Perfect memory: is it a blessing or a curse?

Comments (31)

(31) Dennis, May 31, 2008 12:31 AM


I don''t to remember all the mistakes that I have done. All the arguments and fights I have been while growing up and while I have been an adult.

(30) Deborah, May 24, 2008 8:40 AM


I feel two things about this woman''s situation.
1. We don''t know why, but perhaps this is a blessing for her to remember everything. If there is a reason for everything, then there surely must be a reason for her to remember. Maybe we''ll be blessed with finding out why at a later time.

And two, I feel that it is a blessing that her life is ordinary and everyday. Sometimes ordinary people are blessed with extraordinary gifts or situations. Also, it would be so painful to recall with vivid detail every awful thing that happened. It is a gift that HaShem gives us to soften our memories over time, the bad lessens and the good gets better.

I love these video blogs!

(29) Sheila Halet, May 23, 2008 2:27 PM

That is my problem too

Nice Article Rabbi. I have that kind of memory too - words that hurt and words that don''t etc. etc. It troubles me that at age 65 - I allow myself to remember. OYE VAY!!!!

(28) Sarah C, May 22, 2008 11:22 PM

glad not to be Jill Price

No, I do want to trade my place with Jill Price.

I am glad that I have forgotten a lot of fights I have had with people -- to forgive and to forget is a good thing.
However, a few bigger fights seem to be stuck in my memory, I guess for those I still need to learn something from them.

Thanks to technology, I have captured moments of joy from my children, since they were babies. I regret having not taken more of these "Kodak moments". Some of them even occur on Shabbos, so I can''t capture them.

I regret that my brain is not functioning as well as I would like, no thanks to aging. I would like to remember more Torah. Pirkei Avos this week seems to say that one who learns Torah to teach others Torah and to do the mitzvos will get help from Heaven to do just that. Perhaps I''m not learning Torah the right way.

This is a good topic for this week. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts.

(27) Rena, May 22, 2008 8:25 AM

We THINK we remember the good and not the bad, but since we don''t remember, how do we know? I know I have forgotten the pain of childbirth because people remind you about having forgotten, but perhaps I have forgotten 100 incredibly joyous moments no one reminds me about?

(26) ALITA KELLEY, May 22, 2008 7:58 AM

A curse not a blessing

I can think of nothing more terrible than being "blessed" with a perfect memory.

(25) Ruth Housman, May 21, 2008 6:39 PM

in memory of things past

I am glad I don''t remember Everything. In fact, this is an interesting discussion, because our conscious minds do NOT take in everything that happens, and I bet even this woman does not "recall" everything because even as it''s happening we do not take it all in. That said, for me this would be a mixed blessing. There are things in my life of course that vivid recall would generate much pain. My husband jokes when I say I have a lousy memory now that I am older, Well Ruth, to be frank, your memory was never that great. This is why I guess I do a lot of writing and keep a Diary.

I think in retrospect it''s what we do with those memories that is important. To say we did not do much, is a self-condemnation that''s probably not getting to the truth. We all do more than we thing in the journey through life and often, it is that introspective journey into the past from a distance, that shows us there were nuggets we didn''t see, and connections or threads that are now more apparent in our life narrative that are, simply, beautiful.

(24) Nancy, May 21, 2008 6:01 PM

A Curse to Never Forget

There is a reason why we tend to only remember the good things, or at least forget the horrific pain of traumatic memories. To be overwhelmed with every detail of one''s life and not be able to focus on its joys, would definitely be terribly painful.

(23) ler, May 21, 2008 4:36 PM

Can I have a selective memory?

Oh what a blessing to be able recall all I''ve studied (special teachers comments and which books and by whom),my mother''s lamb stew and mamaliga recipes, where I put my cell phone...the punchlines to jokes, that would be wonderful! But everything? not so much...

(22) J. R. Baskind, May 21, 2008 12:06 PM

Would rather have control than recall

I would not be at all happy if I remembered all the trivia and day-to-day irritants without being able to edit. I would prefer the kind of "Perfect Memory" which involves voluntarily recalling exactly what I needed to recall exactly when I needed to recall it.

(21) Shayna, May 21, 2008 11:59 AM

Not remembering is good for marriage

In the relationship of marriage it is good to forget. Our husbands may forget the day of our birthday. On the one hand is he wrong and unforgivable because he doesn''t remember? Is the wife hurt because she expects her husband to remember? Wouldn''t it be better for the wife to not remember that her husband can''t remember her birthday so she doesn''t carry the hurt with her? Of course he loves her, he just can''t remember what day it is. Isn''t it better to forget the little arguments a man and women have with each other? If I had to remember all the disappointments my husband and I had with each other, we would have been divorced a long time ago.

(20) Jerry Moses, May 21, 2008 8:36 AM


It would be a great gift for me if I could remember every single event of my life.But only if G''D would also give me the ability to have learned on how to make a better world from my memories.I am a Holocoust survivor and am 74 years old.So sonce G''D didn''t give me the ability to make a better world. I think I am blessed by not remembering all the events of my life.But therefore G''D gave me so far a longer life on this earth.Without remembering everything,I still try to do my best.Amen.....Jerry

(19) janice, May 21, 2008 8:27 AM

the woman who could not forget

I think that having a memory in which you cannot forget anything is not really good. If you can never forget anything then how do you move past it and fe able to forgive. How are you able to advance in your life. You stated that the woman stated not a lot has changed in her life. Could this be because she cannot forget and she jsut does not try to do anything exciting. Also does she play things over and over in her head about events, as many of us do. It''s like good or bad reruns of shows all the time in her head (I think). Not everything we do is worth savering. If you try something and you fail then that memory just continues to linger and perhaps you want try something new again. Now a memeory of not forgetting can be good if she can read things and retain the information in her memory, for she could emass a wealth of knowledge. I am curious what type of a job does she have? fact finder, librian or etc. Any just my thoughts. I personally do not care to remember every single detail of my life, for I have enough to deal with in the limited memories that I o recall.

(18) Roger De Freitas, May 21, 2008 7:52 AM

Does time heal wounds?

It is said that time heals all wounds, but if you cannot forget does this mean she will be damaged for all time?

(17) Liorah, May 21, 2008 7:45 AM

Yes, perfect memory is a blessing AND a curse.

Remembering though is not as important as how one responds to those memories, the same is true regarding what happens to you in the moment which would later become a memory.

How sad to be able to recall every detail of your life and think so little of it. Our life is a gift from HaShem.

In response to Alex and Kathi, as you remember "bad stuff and nightmares" you can choose to not hold it against someone who offended you, nor to hold it against yourself when you fail, this is not easy, however the effort put forth to release the pain and find something positive out of the situation is more than worth it.

I choose to be thankful for what I remember as well as for what I forget, and even for what I choose not to dwell on anymore.

(16) kathi, May 21, 2008 7:04 AM

Too much pain!

I have to agree with the sages, here. Perhaps if you lived a placid, uneventful life this wouldn''t be too bad. But in today''s world of violence and evil this type of memory would be a curse. I do not have a perfect memory, but as a survivor of child abuse and rape, I am grateful for that. I already have nightmares and memories that I regularly struggle with. I don''t want to know how much worse it could be!! It would be too painful to bear.

(15) Jaklin, May 21, 2008 6:53 AM

same here as jill price

Tell me what she did about it. And remmbering every from her past, to present. Please e.mail me back if possible. Sincerely Jaklin

(14) Alex, May 21, 2008 5:26 AM

I agree with Shirah

It seems that I wake myself up in the middle of the night every night, with a memory of something I did or something I said that I wished I didn''t say, or I wish didn''t happen. I can''t change it now, but I keep reminding myself of it over and over again, only to make me feel bad about myself... for that, I really wish I could forget all the bad stuff, and remember only good things. The woman who remembers everything, remembers dates and details.. I only remember how these things made me feel, and that I didn''t feel good. The memory for the keys, on the other hand, is necessary to move forward in life, and those are the things I forget.. So I definitely would like to switch the long term memory for the short term memory!!

(13) Anonymous, May 21, 2008 3:41 AM

Brain Injury

I had a traumatic brain injury, with one of the results being short-term (which is ultimately long-term) memory loss. I used to have an amazing memory. Now, forgetting things is my daily routine. However, I can remember everything that happened before the injury. Having been able to have had it both ways, I have decided that not being able to remember is better. Perhaps I feel that way because I have no choice, and I look for the positive in every situation. But I do know that I stop to appreciate every wonderful thing that happens now, because I won''t remember it later. I think that has brought me closer to G*d, and helped me to realize that He truly moves within our everyday lives. I''ve been able to do things I never would have before (so I''m told...I can''t remember...hahaha) and I think it''s because I worry less and search for possibilities more. So in losing one thing, I have gained so much more.

(12) NesanelS, May 20, 2008 1:47 PM

Forgetting is a Blessing

I remember reading from Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZTZ"L that the brtain disposes of unwanted memories in a more comlex way than the food system.

(11) Shirah, May 20, 2008 1:34 PM

No thanks

I wouldn''t want a memory such as Jill Price''s. Most of our days *are* banal and routine, and the extreme times - good and bad - are the ones we tend to remember. I don''t think I''d like to feel the pain of the day of 911, or my mother''s death as if they happened just yesterday. Forgetting is good, too. I''ll just have to work on a scheme for remembering where my car keys are...

(10) Shraga, May 20, 2008 1:03 PM

Is it better to love and lose the love or better to have never loved at all?

I want to remember everything. The good, the bad, and everything in between. After all, we can learn from mistakes. And we can uncover aspects of meaning from pain. I want to feel as much, taste as much, see as much, in other words LIVE as much as possible, with nothing dulled and sugar coated. Life is about living, not existing.

(9) empyrean, May 20, 2008 8:01 AM

Remeber to be Jewish

If I had that memory, I would like to remember to learn and apply daily all that the Torah and Talmud has to offer. To be Jewish in all my affairs all of the time. I would never want to forget that, not for even a nanosecond.

(8) Cynthia, May 20, 2008 7:08 AM

Life Lessons

Remembering the lesson of negative consequences...and forgetting the shame & Remembering the lesson of the positive consequences and forgetting the pride.

(7) jonathan, May 20, 2008 6:40 AM

try harder

if we really put our effort into making something happen and that gave a tremendous buzz sensation, why would you want to forget?!

being a professional means making the most of everything and not settling for second best. serving as a constant reminder, it would definitely spur us on to live for the now and not let the moment pass

(6) hersh, May 19, 2008 11:12 PM

Well um uh..I forgot what i wanted to say. Just kidding. I remember what i want to remember. The rest, in my mind, never happend. I feel better that way. G-d bless you.

(5) yaakov, May 19, 2008 7:19 PM

my rebbe once brought that topic up and he said for all the good things that you have done it is not worth looking back at the bad

(4) Mindel Yochana, May 18, 2008 9:26 PM

i think for a student it would be great not to forget because then you would probably ace all your tests adn get amazing grades. and still have time to have a social lifel. but it would not be fun to remember the day soemone close to you died, or a fight you got into with someone, or the worst movie you ever saw

(3) MalkaL, May 18, 2008 8:27 PM

Every day counts!!

I think it is a remarkable talent to remember nearly every day of your life. Even if you didn''t create world peace, end poverty.(though we should strive to do so), its the little accomplishments that are so important in most of our lives. You gave your friend a compliment, helped your mom with the dishes, wiped your 2 year old sons runny nose, made a contribution to a charity etc. As for the bad decisions that we make hopefully occasionally, its important to also remember so that we do not repeat them!

(2) Rosen, May 18, 2008 7:56 PM

remembering what people say

I already have a very good, long-term memory. I can remember what people will say to me or someone else, and when I mention what they said later on they cannot recall saying it. It''s good to remember the nice feedback people have given me, just as much as there are painful memories of people saying harsh things to me that I remember for a long time. Thus, words can really hurt! On the other hand, words have the power of reminiscing such as in friendly situations.

(1) Anonymous, May 18, 2008 10:27 AM

I have a similar memory which appears to be genetic. My cousin, grandfather, and niece had the same overwhelming capacity to remember. I am interested in having a cat scan of my brain.

I have a similar memory. It can help, but it is also the cause of lingering emotional pain. It appears to be genetic in my case. I am interested in having a cat scan of my brain.


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Current Issues Emails

Sign up to our Current Issues Jewsletter.

Our privacy policy