Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
on 7 August 2013
This is the story of one of the most famous characters in the history of psychology. Henry Molaison lost his memory in 1953 when he had radical surgery to help cure his serious epilepsy. His epilepsy was alleviated to a degree but more dramatically he lost his long term memory and could only remember things for a few minutes.
Pick up any psychology book on memory and you'll come across HM who contributed an enormous amount to the study of memory but his true identity wasn't revealed until his death in 2008. Henry participated in thousands of studies without ever remembering for himself what he did or the people he worked with. The author Suzanne Corkin is a neuroscientist who worked with him for nearly fifty years and yet each time they met it was as if it was the first time for Henry. This absorbing book brings HM to life as a person as well as exploring the nature and science of memory itself.
It's a fascinating insight into how memory works; what Henry can't remember but also what he could remember and learn, even with such a severe impairment. It's a slightly `geeky' book for anyone interested in the neuroscience or study of memory as there is a lot of information about the tests and procedures that Henry took part in but it's well written and moves easily between the technical and personal details.
Radio 4 serialised it recently and I suspect they took out much of the technical detail and focused on the human side, but that would leave only half a book. It's interesting to get an insight into how the science of psychology has changed and developed; tests that were impossible back in the early 60s suddenly become possible as Henry gets older and new information is constantly revealed. Henry was even able to shed light on what happens in our aging brains.
If you've ever come across HM, got any interest in how pyschological studies are done or how memory works then this is definitely worth a read and thank you so much to Tina who bought it for me.