June 1, 2008

Book Review: Remember Me?

The Memory Key: Unlock the Secrets to Remembering by Dr. Fiona McPherson (Career Press, 2000, ISBN 1-56414-470-4)

This book was written by: Dr. Fiona McPherson, who "has three degrees, all in psychology"(back cover). The back cover also states that Dr. McPherson suffered from postnatal memory loss which, according to her memory-loss website, "is a facetious rather than clinical diagnosis, although no less real for that." She is also an author of works of fiction, and reviews books at her author's website, www.fmmcpherson.com.

What is in this book: Ways to improve your memory so that you can become more successful and avoid embarassing social situations. Her exercises can help you when "you see a person you know--you remember that she belongs to your tennis club--but you cannot remember her name"(p.31). These exercises can also help you when you need assistance at other times, like when you have to remember the name of your chauffeur, broker, spouse, or child.

What is not in this book: Perfectionism. "Don't aim to remember everything. Focus on remembering what is important"(p.193). Although most memory-improvement strategies work, "very few people want to put an effort into making them work. That's not laziness, that's an appreciation of costs versus benefits"(p.10). This book can also help you realize that "you may be poor at remembering people's names, but perhaps you don't really care"(p.12). This book will help you "get into the habit (develop the skill) of asking yourself: Is this worth remembering? When you're reading the paper--"Do I want to remember this?" When your partner tells you something--"Do I need to remember this?" When you meet a new person--"Do I want to remember this person?""(p.193). Following the instructions laid out in this book will give you a better memory in no time, you uncaring bastard.

Would you recommend this book to stouthearted young men of fighting age from the year 1898? No, such men would do better to remember the Maine.

Would you recommend to someone suffering from memory loss? I'm sorry, what was the question again?

What was interesting about this book: Two things. First, the way that Dr. McPherson describes memory codes(p.77):

The memories in your head dance.
The codes in the spotlight do not therefore have to be sitting together in the theatre. Imagine them instead in a ballroom. The codes waltz around the dance floor. Here two couples are dancing close together, there two couples change partners. The spotlight moves, its very action bringing about changes in the dancers. "Quick," they say, hurrying over to get in the spotlight. In response to the dancers, the spotlight too changes. It thinks, "Oh, look at that arrangement," and it grows larger, more diffuse, to catch it all.

Also of interest are the suggested exercises to improve your memory, like trying to make up a story using items from a list you're trying to memorize. For example (p.70):
Here is a brief story to help memorize a shopping list of ten items (the items are capitalized): "the BREAD is full of JUICE. I will MILK it and wash the PAPER TOWEL off, then FISH for CORN, CHIP it into BEANS and STOCK up on ORANGES."

Although I tried to use this method to bring home some JUICY steaks for dinner, my ASSignment was a failure. I put a LARGE amount of effort into crafting a story, but came home with six pounds of chicken BREASTS.

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PoisonedV said...

You might want to check out Mind Performance Hacks, its much better.

Bitterly Books said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

Following through on it has proved difficult, since I can never remember the name of the book that's supposed to help me with my memory.

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