Woman Who Can't Forget Amazes Doctors

'It's Just Really My Life'

Brain scans have now shown that parts of Price's brain are three times the size of those in other women her age. In 2006, the UC-Irvine team published a research paper about Price, proposing a new medical condition for her called hyperthymestic syndrome, meaning that she has a superior memory.

McGaugh says that the enlarged parts of Price's brain are areas also associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

"Collecting and hoarding are cardinal signs of obsessive compulsive disorder," he said. "All of these support this memory system. And we think it's part of the same thing. But we don't think it is an accident that the tendency to collect is both for objects and for memories. We think these are related, and we think that the brain does it. And we want to figure out how."

But Price and her doctors point out that her memory only applies to her own life.

"I would get totally stressed out if I had to memorize a poem, or if I had to memorize a monologue for drama class, I would completely freak out," Price said. "Because I can't do what they do. I can't look at a phone book and memorize names. I don't do that. It's just really my life."

Cahill also refutes the suggestion that Price could simply be memorizing facts from her journal.

"Silly explanations are offered, like, she thinks about her life all the time. And therefore, memorizes her life in this amazing capacity," he said. "That's silly. There aren't enough hours in the day. Do the math. There's not enough hours in the day for her to be able to create this artificially."

Time Heals No Wounds

Many people think that Price's gift may be a dream, but she says "it's good and bad" and can sometimes feel like being a prisoner of her own past.

"She was not easy," Price's mother Roz said of her childhood. "And that's because everything that was going through her head she couldn't explain."

"There were things I would think to myself, 'Why doesn't she just get over that?' said her brother Mike. "And I realize now that … a year passing for something, for me, you know, I've forgotten it already. But, obviously she doesn't."

Price's experience serves as a reminder that our lives and happiness may be shaped not only by what we remember, but by what we choose to forget.

"I still feel bad about stuff that happened 30 years ago," Price said. "And I really live it and feel it."

"It makes me crazy. Somehow I've survived this. I don't know how I've done it, but somehow I figured out a way to live this and survive it."

Part of what helped her survive, she says, was her relationship with her husband Jim Price, whom she met in 2002.

"He just got me, right from the very beginning," she said. "And we laughed all the time and he just, he was my best friend."

But just two years after they got married, Jim Price, a diabetic, died of a stroke at the age of 42 — another day to relive in full pain over and over again.

"We can say time heals all wounds," said Price's mother. "Doesn't for her."

Looking to the Future

In her book, "The Woman Who Never Forgets," Price says that she's trying to learn to look forward, and laugh at her difficult gift, inspired by her husband.

"I feel like he is here," she said. "I feel like he is my angel. I feel like he is sprinkling me with fairy dust. "

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...