Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Using Mental Pictures

 The use of striking mental pictures is so valuable that it is worth examining in more detail. I once witnessed a memory demonstration by a man named DWight Ashley. Mr. Ashley was introduced just once to each person in a room containing perhaps thirty-live people. He took his time with these introductions; he repeated each name once and sometimes twice; occasionally he asked for the spelling as soon as the introductions were completed, Mr. Ashley badge had each person stand up-and they stood up in random order-whereupon he repeated the person’s name. He did not miss a single one.  How did he do it? Mr. Ashley described his method to the group: “I made an amusing mental picture of each person, a picture that helped me to associate the name with the man. For instance, I remembered Mr. Starrett by putting an angel’s star over his head. When Mr. Starrett stood up, that angel’s star rose over him like the eve of the first Christmas. It practically illuminated the room. I couldn’t miss it.”


Mr. Ashley, an elderly gentleman with a high forehead, suggested that we remember his name by picturing a round ash spot, like the ones you see at Eastertime, in the middle of his forehead. He went on to say: “You may think that you still won’t remember my name. You’ll grope around, you think, and toy with names like Ashton, Ashbury, Ashmoleon. Let me tell you that you won’t. All you really need is the first syllable. You’ll remember the ‘-ley’ without even trying. After all, a person who forgets a name usually forgets it completely. If he had one syllable to go on, the name would instantly leap to his mind.”

I, for one, have never forgotten Mr. Ashley, and I doubt that the others in the room that night have forgotten him either.

It’s worth noting, too, that by remembering a person’s name, you will very probably remember his face. The mere fact that you have once “seen” Mr. Starrett with a glowing star over his head, or Mr. Ashley with the sign of Ash Wednesday on him, will give you a mental picture of the man himself. Therefore, when you see him again, you are more likely to recognize both his face and his name than you would have been had you not used mental pictures. 
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