I have noticed in these past months, that while in the middle of telling stories I tend to forget names, that sometimes people I am talking to would suggest a series of names to supply to my stories. It’s not that I easily forget the name of a person I recently meet, but rather, I tend to forget names of persons of the stories I am telling. Sometimes, it’s a struggle just to get to tell the punch line without a name attached to it. The story becomes a dud whenever instead of saying: Bob did it! I would be constrained to say: This guy, whose name I don’t remember, did it!. Often times, I would repeat the same joke later, but only the punch line, when I do remember who did what!
Charles Baxter, the author of The Business of Memory summed up my concern:
In an information age, forgetfulness is a sign of disability and incompetence. Not only that, but it’s extremely annoying.
Worried, I went online and searched about the symptoms and possible solution or explanation to my problem. I was happy to find out that my problem is a common one and had been a topic on some other blogs, aside from being a lively forum topic on most medical sites.
Forgetting names, Schacter (2001), chairman of the department of psychology at Harvard, labels it blocking, failure to retrieve names, rather than failure to store them.
Theoretically, remembering a name of anything requires sequential access to three kinds of knowledge: a visual representation; a conceptual representation of what the thing does; and a phonological representation of the sounds. Language processing models add a level, which Dr. Schacter calls the lexical level: how the word fits into a sentence.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada (2003) explained:
Information stored in the short-term memory may include the name of a person you met moments ago or a phone number you just looked up. Information stored in the recent memory may include what you ate for breakfast or what you did yesterday.
Information stored in the remote memory includes things that you stored in your memory years ago, such as memories of childhood. . .
In an article in HealthandAge.com, a 68-year old man asked if forgetting names is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, and it was answered:
Your short-term and remote memories aren’t usually affected by aging. But your very recent memory may be affected. You may forget names of people you’ve met recently. Please know that these are normal changes. A memory problem is serious when it affects your daily living. If you sometimes forget names, you’re probably okay.
The results proved promising: it’s a temporary glitch! At least I don’t have trouble remembering how to do things I’ve done many times before, getting to a place I’ve been to often, or doing things that use steps, like following a recipe; trouble learning new things, repeating phrases or stories in the same conversation, trouble making choices or handling money, or not being able to keep track of what happens each day! Or at least, I’m unlike my boss who keeps telling the same stories, two or three times a day, without even knowing that we heard the same joke awhile ago, that’s why we are not laughing the seond or third time around.
Thus, I would keep on telling stories whenever I can. Maybe, I just skip those punch lines with names of persons in it.