Beattie says that something which has been long forgotten and for which it has been impossible to recollect, but sometimes all of a sudden, it can be recollected without any effort.
Hamilton says that the mind frequently contains whole systems of knowledge which, though in our normal state they may have faded into absolute oblivion, may in certain abnormal states, as catalepsy, somnambulism, madness, delirium, etc., flash out into luminous consciousness.
For instance, there are cases in which the extinct memories of whole languages were suddenly restored.
Lecky says that it is now fully established that no effort of the will can revive multitude of events which are so entirely forgotten, and that the statement of them calls up no memories, may nevertheless be, so to speak, embedded in the human memory, and may be reproduced with intense clearness under certain physical conditions.
The authorities had give many instances recorded in scientific annals as a proof of the above statements.
Beaufort, describing his sensations just before being rescued from drowning says: “Every event of my former life seemed to glimpse across my recollection in a retrospective procession, not in mere outline, but in a picture filled with every minute and collateral feature, thus forming a panoramic view of my whole existence.”
Coleridge relates the well-known case of the old woman who could neither read nor write, who when in the delirium of fever constantly declaimed in very pompous tones long passages from the Latin, Greek and Hebrew, with a distinct enunciation and precise rendition.
It caused wonderment when notes of her ravings were taken down with the help of shorthand, until it was afterwards found that in her youth she had been employed as a servant in the house of a clergyman who was in the habit of reading aloud from his favorite classical and religious writers.
In his books were found marked passages corresponding to the notes taken from the girl’s ravings. Her subconscious memory had stored up the sounds of these passages heard in her early youth, but of which she had no recollection in her normal state.
Kay truly says that by adopting the opinion that every thought or impression that had once been consciously before the mind is ever afterwards preserved, we obtain light on many doubtful mental phenomena; and especially do we draw from it the conclusion of the perfectibility of the human memory to an almost unlimited extent.
We cannot doubt that, could we enter to the lowest depths of our mental nature, we should there find traces of every feeling we have received, every thought we have entertained, and every act we have done through our past life, each one making its influence felt in the way of building up our present knowledge, or in guiding our every-day actions
If they continue in the mind, might it not be probable to remember most if not all of them into consciousness when we wished to do so, if our human memories or powers of recollection were what they should be.
As we know that the human memory region, subconscious region of the mind, may be thought of as a great record file, with an intricate system of indexes, and office boys whose work is to file away the records; to index them; and to find them when needed.
Attention And Association
The records record only what we have felt upon them by the attention, the degree of depth and clearness depending entirely upon the degree of attention, which we bestowed upon the original feeling.
We can never expect to have the office boys of the memory bring up anything that they have not been given to file away. The association existing between the various impressions supplies the indexing, and cross-references.
The more cross-references, or associations that are linked with an idea, thought or feeling that is filed away in the human memory, the greater the chances of it being found readily when wanted.
These two features of attention and association, and the parts they play in the phenomena of memory, are mentioned in detail in other chapters of this book.
These little office boys of the human memory are a hard-working and willing lot of little chaps, but like all boys they do their best work when kept in practice. They can become slothful and careless, and forgetful of the records under their charge with idleness and lack of exercise.
The cobwebs can be taken out of the brain with a little fresh exercise and work, and they spring eagerly to their tasks. They become familiar with their work when exercised properly, and soon become very expert.
They have a tendency to remember, on their own part, and often they grow accustomed to its place when a certain record is called for, and can find it without referring to the indexes at all.
But their problem comes from faint and almost illegible records, caused by poor attention are called for, in such conditions they can scarcely interpret even if they do succeed in finding them.
They are much worried and have to do extra work due to lack of proper indexing by associations and sometimes they are unable to find the records at all from this neglect.
Often, however, you have left the place in disgust after they have told you that they could not find a thing and but, they will continue their search and hours afterward will surprise you by handing you the desired idea, or feeling, which they had improperly filed away or found carelessly indexed.