Click on the ‘Listen’ button above to hear the full interview.
About 15 years ago, Nima Veiseh’s life changed. His brain suddenly began recording every experience he was having in vivid detail. In the years since, his memories have been mentally archived in his brain, which has become a vast searchable database of feelings, emotions, and images.
“Almost an entire year of my life is experienced on a daily basis,” he says.
His condition is called hyperthymesia, and was first formally identified in 2006. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have sifted through thousands of individuals to confirm just a few dozen cases. Part of the exceedingly rare condition is now attributed to a higher correlation between the amount of white matter connecting to gray matter in the brain.
Veiseh is an academic researcher at George Washington University and a professional painter that goes by the name EnigmaofNewYork. Just having a name to explain his condition has provided him with a sense of stability and structure.
“One half of it is understanding how the memories are organized within ourselves, which has not only taught me a lot about myself, but people around me as well,” he says.
Whether it’s remembering a joke or a dark memory, all of the feelings and emotions Veiseh originally went through come rushing back in full detail.
“The vast majority of people have a great luxury of the half-life of memories, [which] slowly fades into the background over weeks, months and years,” he says. “Whereas without that, since forgetting is not really a luxury that I have, I have to genuinely learn to forgive, since forgiving and forgetting isn’t something that, [it] isn’t really the easiest thing for me.”
Click on the ‘Listen’ button above to hear the full interview with Veiseh. Check out one of his paintings below.