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Word of the Day: Hypermnesia

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by Danna Martínez

Every time a person has an experience, memory is generated. Over time, memories are stored in the human mind. Many people can have good memory skills and remember easily. But, only a few people can remember each experience in detail and with precision. This condition is known as hypermnesia.

The term hypermnesia has a Greek origin. It is made up of the words hyper-, -mnemo-, -sis- and -ia. The word hyper means above; mnemo means memory; sis implies action. And finally, the suffix -ia, means quality. In this way, the term hypermnesia is linked to the increase in the qualities of memory. According to the People with Potential organization, “The phenomenon was first described by a memory research group in California a few years ago.”

Hypermnesia is the excessive ability to remember. This condition allows those who possess it to recall life experiences in great detail. Many people in their lives can develop a great capacity to remember. However, hypermnesia is a very particular and abnormal condition present in few people around the world. According to the Jamaica Hospital organization, “There are only 61 people worldwide who have been identified as having hyperthymesia.”

For some, this phenomenon can be a gift. For others, it can turn into a tragedy. Remembering past experiences is about remembering both the good and the bad. Hypermnesia allows you to re-experience the pleasant sensations of the best moments in life. It also allows you to feel the not-so-good moments in detail.

Knowing how memory works, in general, has been one of the most significant challenges for scientists throughout history. Studying the advantages and disadvantages of hypermnesia can be productive in understanding mental processes.

Remembering is not just keeping in mind a particular situation. Experiences are made up of feelings, thoughts, and surroundings. Moreover, people with hypermnesia can remember the dates, times, sensations, conversations, and environments over the entire course of their lives.

There are different ways to improve memory and the ability to remember. For example, getting enough sleep. However, hypermnesia is an abnormal condition and only develops in just a few persons.


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