Sheldon’s eidetic memory

A distinctive trait of The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon is his eidetic memory. Sheldon’s eidetic memory means that he remembers events of his life in astonishing detail.

The actor Jim Parsons (who plays the character of Sheldon) no doubt envies Sheldon’s eidetic memory; especially given the amount of long scientific explanations that he must memorise each week, due to the shows at times very complex scripts. 

Sheldon Cooper’s eidetic memory is a condition which allows an individual to remember the things they have seen, heard and felt – in extremely precise detail. One particularly interesting thing about the condition is that it happens automatically, in contrast many professional ‘memory men’ perform their stage tricks with the help of complicated memorising systems (known as mnemonics). Sheldon’s eidetic memory comes out in some amazing way during The Big Bang Theory episodes; often helping the viewer to understand a little bit more about what drives the character. Sheldon’s fear of strangers, for example, is in part down to childhood memories of being bullied at school. This fear is so strong that he panics at seemingly innocuous events (such as when a new neighbour moves into the flat above). Initially strange, the reaction is much more understandable when you consider that Sheldon’s eidetic memory means he can remember his childhood tormentor’s aggression in such deep precision (as if it happened yesterday).

Sheldon’s eidetic memory has also been a great asset to him, it has allowed him to remember facts easily that other people would struggle to remember. This has enabled him to become one of the leading scientists of the twenty-first century. However, this success also means that he cannot understand failure, leading to occasional fits of depression. This is when Sheldon’s mother or friends (especially roommate Leonard Hofstadter) inevitably step in to help.

In later series of the Big Bang theory Sheldon’s eidetic memory has been revealed to have a quirkier side. Viewers have seen his irrational hatred of Will Wheaton (due to an event long ago) explored to hilarious effect. Likewise, Sheldon’s ability to memorise flags of the world and even the basic day-to-day events of life have led to some hilarious moments.

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