memory marking by strikinggreenspun.com : LUSENET : History & Theory of Psychology : One Thread
Colleagues, quite a few years ago I recall reading about someone--a famous historical figure, I believe, but whose name I can't recall-- whose father physically struck him so that he would always remember a significant event. While teaching a learning course, I realized that this seemed to be an excellent historical example of "marking," that is, improved memory for an event that is accompanied by some unusual stimulus. Can anyone tell me anything about the practice of physically striking a child for the purpose of not punishment, but for establishing a more permanent memory?
-- Charles Early (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 2001
I don't have the answer to your question, but the general mnemonic strategy described goes back to ancient "ars memoria." Usually, however, the idea is to make the memory images "striking" rather than actually striking the memorizer. I skimmed through the first few chapters of Frances Yates' _Art of Memory_ (Routledge, 1966) to see if I could find the example you mention, but I couldn't. You might look through the three Latin texts on mnemonics she describes: Cicero's De Oratore, Quintillian's Institutio Oratio, and ESPECIALLY the anonymous Ad C. Herennium, libri IV (often called just Ad Herennium). See especially the passage from Ad Herennium quoted in Yates, pp. 25-26. If it doesn't come from one of those then it may come from Augustine, Albertus Magnus, or Thomas Aquinas, all of whom seemed to follow Cicero's lead in matters memorial to some degree. In addition to Yates' book, another excellent modern account on Medieval mnemonics is Mary Carruthers' _Book of Memory_ (Cambridge, 1990).
-- Christopher Green (email@example.com), March 21, 2001.
Hi Charles, yeah I can, but it is not exactly expressed in the terms you used. It is used to facilitate learning (which I guess is memory), and it is expressed in terms of contiguity. This is how it would be done, say a person had an electrical outlet in their home and they were affraid their child would somehow stick his/her little fingers in it and thereby get a nasty shock. So, what they do is snap the child's hand with a red rubber band, and it has to hurt and the child has to see the rubber band during the hurting. Then they hang the rubber band on the electrical outlet they don't want the child playing near. Of course, it's a little different what you probably had in mind. Best, David
-- david clark (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 23, 2001.
I ran into someone that also vaguely remembered a story about a famous person that did something like you described, but unfortunately they could not remember much of the details or the people involved. Paul
-- paul kleinginna (email@example.com), April 12, 2001.