Woman With Extremely Rare Condition Remembers Everything—Even a Moment in the Womb

Woman With Extremely Rare Condition Remembers Everything—Even a Moment in the Womb

A woman with a rare condition can remember everything that has ever happened to her over the years—even being in the womb.

Rebecca Sharrock, 34, has a neurological condition called “highly superior autobiographical memory” (H-SAM)—which causes her to remember most of her life in great detail.

Ms. Sharrock is just one of 62 people with this rare condition and currently remembers 95 percent of everything that’s happened in her life.

“The interesting thing is, I don’t have to have any personal significance attached to a memory,” she said. “They don’t need to mean much for some reason.”


Ms. Sharrock was diagnosed with H-SAM when she was 21 years old, on Jan. 23, 2011.

She was originally misdiagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at the age of 16 because she'd “obsessively” relive past experiences.

Her childhood memories—like having toys taken away from her at school or someone stealing her lollipop in elementary school—would make her upset, despite these events being “trivial.”

“I always put my flashbacks down to OCD,” she said. “When I'd have a flashback my emotions would remember too.

“Very often this would be from something that happened when I was very small.”

Ms. Sharrock on her first birthday. (SWNS)
Ms. Sharrock on her first birthday. (SWNS)

Recalling one of her earliest memories, from Dec. 23, 1989, Ms. Sharrock said she was only 12 days old when she had her first photo taken.

“I spent many years afterwards telling my mom about this experience,” she said.

Ms. Sharrock on the day she was born. (SWNS)
Ms. Sharrock on the day she was born. (SWNS)

Prior to this, she had some memories but couldn’t date them as she was too young to understand the concept of a calendar.

Her “true” earliest memory was from when she was in the womb or in the minutes after being born.

“The earliest recollection I have I can’t date because I was far too young,” she said. "I have this memory of me being scrunched up, having my head tucked between my legs.

“Researchers have told me this could’ve been from when I was in the womb, or it could’ve been straight after being born.”

H-SAM can cause significant mental health issues and Ms. Sharrock struggles with insomnia and needs therapy for trauma and anxiety.

“There are very few therapists who can treat my conditionso they have to borrow things from PTSD therapy,“ she said. ”It’s quite experimental.”

To ease her insomnia, she tries to listen to classical music at night and has been prescribed valium to help her relax.

“This memory condition is essentially a medical condition, which does cause issues in my daily living,” she said. “All these flashbacks going through my mind are constant and throughout them, I do experience insomnia.

“My mind will just never stay quiet.”

Ms. Sharrock when she was 7 years old. (SWNS)
Ms. Sharrock when she was 7 years old. (SWNS)

Ms. Sharrock has tried to use her condition for something positive and has begun learning French and Spanish.

She went from a total beginner to near-fluent in two months.

“My French teacher is from Marseilles, and I can have a conversation with her in French now,” she said. “I can watch Spanish and French TV without subtitles.”

She said that she’s been able to understand everything that she was taught in class but just needed to practice her pronunciation.

She’s now hoping to learn Italian.

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