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“超强自我记忆症”带来的烦恼

更新时间:2017-11-15 20:06:59 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The woman who can't forget
“超强自我记忆症”带来的烦恼

“When I was about a week old I remember being in this pink cotton blanket,” Rebecca Sharrock recalls. “I’d always know when it was Mum holding me, for some reason. I just instinctively always knew and she was my favourite person.”

"当我只有一周大的时候,我记得我被包在这块粉色的棉毯里,"瑞贝卡·沙罗克(Rebecca Sharrock)回忆说。因为某种原因,当妈妈抱着我的时候,我总是能知道。我只是本能地知道,她是我最喜欢的人。"

Considering most people’s earliest memories don’t start until around the age of four, it would be easy to assume that Sharrock’s description was a nostalgic daydream, rather than a real memory. But then again, the 27-year-old from Brisbane, Australia doesn’t have a memory like most people – she has been diagnosed with a rare syndrome called ‘Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory’, or HSAM, also known as hyperthymesia. This unique neurological condition means that Sharrock can recall every single thing she did on any given date.

考虑到大多数人最早直到四岁左右才开始有记忆,你很容易觉得沙罗克的描述是一种怀旧的白日梦,而不是真实的记忆。不过,这位来自澳大利亚布里斯班(Brisbane)的27岁女士跟大多数人不同——她被诊断患有一种罕见的称为超强自我记忆症(Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory,或HSAM)的综合症,该综合症也被称为超忆症(hyperthymesia)。这种独特的神经性疾病意味着沙罗克能记起她在任何时间所做的每一件事。

People with HSAM can instantly, effortlessly and immediately recall what they did, what they wore, or where they were at any time. They can remember public news and personal events all in photographic detail and with an accuracy that matches that of a tape or video recorder.

患有超强自我记忆症的人能够在一瞬间,毫不费力地立刻记起他们所做过的事情,他们穿的衣服,或者他们在何时位于何处。他们能够像照相一般回忆起公共新闻和个人事件中的所有细节,而且其准确性不亚于录音或者影像的记录。

Growing up, Sharrock thought that everybody remembered like she did. Until one day: her parents called her to watch a news segment on TV about people with HSAM. “It was 23 January 2011,” she remembers. “When those people were going through their recollections, the reporters were saying ‘It’s amazing, incredible.’ I said to my parents, ‘Why are they calling this amazing, isn’t it normal?’” Sharrock’s parents explained that it wasn’t normal and they thought she might share the same condition.

成长的过程中,沙罗克本以为每个人都像她一样能够记住所有事。直到有一天,她父母叫她看了一段关于超强自我记忆症的电视新闻片段。"那是在2011年1月23日。"她回忆说。当那些人在回忆往事时,记者们嚷道:"太不可思议了,难以置信。"我对我父母说:"他们为什么这么大喊大叫,这不正常吗?"沙罗克的父母解释说,这是不正常的,而且他们觉得她可能也患有同样的病。

After contacting the academics mentioned in the news report, Sharrock was tested and eventually diagnosed in 2013. HSAM was only discovered in the early 2000s and only around 60 people are known to have the condition worldwide.

在跟这篇新闻里所报道的学者们联络之后,沙罗克进行了检查,并在2013年确诊。超强自我记忆症在21世纪的头几年才刚刚发现,而全世界只有大约60人患有这种疾病。

Why are some people born with HSAM? Research is still ongoing, as the field is relatively new and there are so few people with HSAM in the world. But some research suggests that the temporal lobe (which aids in memory processing) is bigger in the brains of people with HSAM, as is the caudate nucleus, which helps in learning but may also play a role in obsessive compulsive disorder.

为何有人生来就会得超强自我记忆症?相关研究仍在进行中,由于这个领域相对较新,而且全世界仅有很少的人患有该症。但是一些研究表明患有超强自我记忆症的人大脑中的颞叶(大脑协助记忆加工的部位)更大,就如同大脑中负责学习的尾状核一样,这一部位在强迫症中也发挥作用。

HSAM means that memories are recorded in vivid detail and despite being fascinating to science, it may be a scourge to some of those who experience it.

超强自我记忆症意味着所有的记忆都充满了生动的细节。尽管对科学研究而言这魅力无穷,但对于患有该症的人而言也可能是一种折磨。

While some with HSAM describe their memories as being highly organised, Sharrock (who is also autistic) describes her brain as being “cluttered” and constantly reliving memories gives her headaches and insomnia.

虽然一些超强自我记忆症患者认为他们的记忆有条有理,沙罗克(她也是自闭症患者)则把她的大脑描述为"杂乱无章",不断重演的记忆让她头痛和失眠。

It also has a darker side as Sharrock’s mental health has suffered due to depression and anxiety. Her extraordinary memory makes her feel like she’s in an emotional time machine. “If I’m remembering an incident that happened when I was three, my emotional response to the situation is like a three-year-old, even though my mind and conscience are like an adult,” she says. This disparity between the head and heart leads to confusion and anxiety.

这个综合症也有非常糟糕的一面,沙罗克的心理健康由于抑郁和焦虑而饱受影响。她非凡的记忆力让她觉得自己处在一个情绪的时间机器中。她说:"如果我回忆起我三岁时发生的一件事,我对这种情况的情绪反应就像一个三岁的孩子,即使我的思想和良心都已经像成年人一样。"头脑与心灵之间的差异导致了困惑和焦虑。

Despite this, Sharrock has learned to try and use positive memories to override the negative ones: “At the start of every month, I’d pick out all of the best memories that I had of previous years for that month.” Reliving positive events makes it easier to deal with the “invasive memories” that bring her down.

尽管如此,沙罗克已经学会利用积极的回忆来抵消负面情绪。"在每个月的开始,我会挑选出过去几年同一个月最美好的记忆。"重温积极性的事情,使她能够更容易应付让她沮丧的"侵入性记忆"。

Sharrock says what she remembers from a particular date are things “that I came across myself that day because I don’t research when current events happened, I just remember them as I personally saw them or came across them”. While people with HSAM can remember basic news events from a certain day, often those things are also part of a personal experience or interest which may help them encode the memory.

沙罗克说,她在特定日期所记住的是:"那些当天我亲身遇到的事情,因为我对当天事件不做任何研究,我只记得我亲眼见过或者碰上的事情。"虽然超强自我记忆症患者能够记住某一天基本的新闻事件,往往这些也是帮助他们形成记忆的个人经历或者个人兴趣的一些事情。

HSAM might also give us an unprecedented insight into how babies and children view the world. Sharrock describes what caught her eye as a baby, as well as learning how to walk: “I’d be in my crib and I’d just turn my head around and look at things around me, such as the stand-up fan next to my cot. I was fascinated by that. It wasn’t until I was about one-and-a-half that it dawned on me, ‘Why don’t I get up and explore what it could be?’”

超强自我记忆症也可以为我们带来一种前所未有的深入了解婴儿和儿童看待世界方式的机会。沙罗克描述了她婴儿期以及学步期那些吸引她的事情:"我在我的小床上,我会转过头看看身边的事情,比如床边上那台立式电扇。它让我着迷。直到我一岁半大时,我恍然大悟,为什么我不去探索一下看它到底是什么?"

Another aspect to this ability is how it may affect dreaming in some people with HSAM. Sharrock says that now as an adult, “I can control my dreams and I rarely have troubled nightmares because I think if something scary happens I can just change the sequence.” But this wasn’t the case as a baby because once she began having dreams from the age of around 18 months, she wasn’t able to differentiate between dreaming and reality. “That’s why I’d cry at night for Mum,” she explains, “but I couldn’t verbalise it.” Perhaps people with HSAM may have a greater ability to experience lucid dreaming.

这种能力的另一个方面是它对超强自我记忆症患者梦境的影响。沙罗克说:"现在作为一个成年人,我能控制自己的梦境,很少受噩梦的困扰,因为我觉得如果一件可怕的事情发生我就可以改变次序。"但是婴儿期的她却无法做到,因为当她18个月大开始做梦时,她无法区分梦与现实。"这就是为什么我会在夜里哭着喊妈妈,"她说,"但我还无法用语言表达。"

Sharrock now takes part in two research projects with the University of Queensland and the University of California, Irvine and hopes the findings can help those suffering with Alzheimer’s.

沙罗克现在参加昆士兰大学(University of Queensland)和加利福尼亚大学尔湾分校(University of California, Irvine)的两个研究项目,她希望研究结果可以帮助阿尔兹海默症(Alzheimer's)患者。

Despite having crystal clear memories of just about every event in her life, there is one thing she doesn’t remember – being born.

尽管她对生活中每件事都有着清晰的记忆,但是仍有一件事她记不得,那就是她的出生。

“It’s the only birthday I don’t remember,” she says. “I have no memories of in the womb or coming out of my mum or anything. But I don’t think I’d want to remember that.”

"这是我唯一不记得的生日,"她说,"我没有在子宫里的记忆,也没有从妈妈肚子生出来或是任何其它事情的记忆。但我想我并不愿意记住这一点。"

But despite her mind being like a record stuck on repeat, Sharrock insists she wouldn’t change anything. “Due to my autism, I don’t like change of any sort. I want to continue thinking and feeling the way I do because it’s just how I’ve always thought and felt but I’d like to just find ways of dealing with [it]” she says. “It’s just the person I’ve always known… I want to keep that.”

尽管她的头脑就像一台不断重复的记录仪,沙罗克坚称她不会改变什么。"由于我有自闭症,我不喜欢任何形式的改变。我想按照我自己的方式来思考和自我感受,因为这就是我一直以来思考和感受的方式,我只是想找到处理它的方法。"她说。"这就是我一直知道的那个人……我希望能保留不动。"

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