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Memory Problems

Review of "Quantum Memory Power"

By Dominic O'Brien
Simon & Schuster, 2003
Review by David M. Wolf, M.A. on Mar 17th 2004
Quantum Memory Power

This is a brilliantly conceived and delivered set of programs for anyone who wants to improve personal memory in a variety of areas of everyday life. More than that, as well, this is a program that can actually start someone on the road to being a memory champion if anyone should have that desire. When you listen to Dominic O'Brien, seven-time world memory champion, talk about his strategies for remembering facts, dates, names and faces, numbers, cards, indeed anything worth remembering, you have no doubt at all about the authenticity of what he teaches. It's not just that his approach and his lessons sound practical and useful; it's that he continually drags the listener into actually memorizing things while learning how to do so, removing all lingering doubt that these strategies work.

Most listeners perhaps, like this reviewer, will be looking for ways to overcome gaps in ordinary memory, not for the chance to amaze the world with champion memory. So, I'll focus mostly on the value and quality of this work for the average person. The quality is high and the value is very great.

Most people do forget names of people they have just met at some social gathering, even in very small groups. It's a most troublesome part of contemporary life. With so much data to record and remember, we find ourselves embarrassed when confronted with someone we have just met or recently met and cannot, not to save our lives, speak that person's name. And we know that, no matter how we apologize or try to ingratiate ourselves, we will never really be forgiven by that offended person. It's enough to give us the creeps about going out to parties, community concerts, or anywhere we will be sure to bump into people we've met.

O'Brien deals with this area of memory early in his programs, providing strategies that are based on three keys to memory: association, location, and imagination. These same keys occur again and again, so we build upon our skills very quickly, moving through the six CDs. He shows us techniques that involve "taking a journey" and employing the three keys to easily nail down names and faces permanently to memory (permanent if we review the material a few times). These techniques are actually tried and tested in the CDs, so the listener has no doubt they work and experiences how well these things work.

Next O'Brien tackles people's "worst fear," that of getting up in front of an audience and trying to speak, only to find that memory and notes have been overwhelmed by fear-induced memory loss. The same three keys, association-location-imagination, come into play again as he shows how to memorize an entire speech so that anyone can deliver a speech without notes, a talk of any length or on any subject. Surely, this is an amazing skill to possess; O'Brien shows how it can be done over and over with just a few of his techniques.

Other applications of his methods occupy the remaining disks in the set, each with some advancing power, but never with any difficulty: memorize chemical names or other facts for college courses, create fact files, memorize huge telephone numbers by the hundreds (no kidding), remember all the details of a newspaper, memorize entire decks of playing cards, and other memory feats. Each of these feats are taught in ways that show the listener actually doing these things, so the learning is believable and real. So, if anyone wants to be a memory champion, this program will get you way down that road.

But something equally important is also present and available here. O'Brien uses his own story and his techniques to teach us some things about "learning how to learn" and about the importance of these basics to everything in our lives. He also teaches concentration techniques, relaxation methods, mind balancing, and the sheer fun of using our memory.

He teaches something that builds confidence--our own, that is. How valuable is that? Why would we neglect the creation of such skills when it becomes clear throughout the program how they can actually be acquired? Well, we all know the best intentions often lead us only to disappointment.

This program will not disappoint for anyone who sincerely listens, does the exercises included, and continues to work with the methods and techniques provided. They are simple, obviously memorable, and universal, that is, apply everywhere and in all situations.

Now, since nothing's perfect, one limitation in this set: This program was recorded by a "Brit" for English audiences. Many of the references, such as "two fifty pence pieces," will strike the US ear as King's English. Sometimes this gets in the way during the memory exercises, but it's far from fatal in each case.

On the whole, this program makes a wonderful addition to anyone's library or a wonderful gift you can give any person. Give it fearlessly to someone older who is afraid he or she is having too many "senior moments," because it can give back more than techniques--it provides the practice to fire up memory and make it work even for someone who is experiencing memory lapses. Give the program, also, to students at any level--from children through graduate students. It's never too early to learn how to learn, how to remember. It's also never too late if a person is physically able within any normal range. Give this set to any adult who is feeling overwhelmed at work with organizational details; give it to anyone who wants more out of life. That's probably most of us.

 

 

2004 David Wolf 

David M. Wolf, M.A. studied philosophy of science for the M.A. with Prof. David Hawkins at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and also read advanced philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. His undergraduate education in Philosophy was guided by Prof. Mason Gross. Wolf is certified in philosophic counseling with the American Philosophic Practitioners Assoc. and earns his living in management consulting, where he is distinguished in writing strategic plans and advising in organization development and career counseling.

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