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Observations placeholder

Shereshevsky, Soloman - Recalling the perceptions of childhood



Type of Spiritual Experience


In the following example we see what the perceptions of a baby under one year old are, all emotions and senses, which when recalled can be given names.......

Although no mnemonist, I can remember similar aspects of my life as a child of perhaps only two, particularly those associated with fear.  My room had a large utility furniture double bed which was very low - well below the level of the window so that all I ever saw was the sky, I know it gave a feeling of great vulnerability.  The walls were undecorated and white and in front of the bed was a large double utility style wardrobe [utility furniture was issued after the War] with knotted heavily grained dark wood in which for me there were a thousand faces.  All looking down at me.  After being read a story usually involving fairies and witches, I was then left in the room alone in the dark with the faces.  Needless to say my early years were marked by endless nightmares.

S sounds as though he was a bit luckier than I was.

In effect, therefore, a child’s memory is small and they rely almost entirely on perceptions which tend to be vivid and emotional.

An adult, in contrast, has a far larger memory which has been based on perceptions.  An adult relies over time less and less on perceptions and more on memory.

The balance shifts.  Since spiritual experience is hampered by the function of reason which is based on memory, we can see that as the person gets older, their memory larger and their reasoning ability stronger, their ability to have a spontaneous spiritual experience, unaided by drugs or similar mechanisms virtually ceases.  And the very clever will have more difficulty than the not very bright.

A description of the experience

A R Luria – The Mind of a Mnemonist

I was very young then... not even a year old perhaps... what comes to mind most clearly is the furniture in the room, not all of it, I can't remember that, but the corner of the room where my mother's bed and my cradle were.  A cradle is a small bed with bars on both sides, has curved wickerwork on the under part and it rocks … I remember that the wallpaper in the room was brown and the bed white... I can see my mother taking me in her arms, then she puts me down again … I sense movement ... a feeling of warmth, then an unpleasant sensation of cold.  Light is something I remember very clearly.  During the day it looked like 'this', afterwards like 'that' – twilight.  Then came the yellow light of the lamp....

This is the sense I had of my mother; up to the time I began to recognise her, it was simply a feeling – 'This is good'.

...........No form, no face, just something bending over me from which good would come… pleasant... seeing my mother was like looking at something through the lens of a camera.  At first you can't make anything out, just a round cloudy spot … then a face appears, then its features become sharper.

My mother picks me up.  I don't see her hands.  All I have is a sense that after the blur appears, something is going to happen to me.  They are picking me up.  Now I see their hands.  I feel something both pleasant and unpleasant... it must have been that when they wiped me, they did it kind of roughly and it didn't feel good .. or when they took me out of my crib, particularly in the evening I lie there and it feels like 'this' .  I'm scared, I cry and the sound of my own crying only makes me cry harder.  Even then I understood that after 'this' feeling there would be noise, then stillness.  Right after that I could feel a pendulum, a rocking back and forth

The source of the experience

Shereshevsky, Solomon

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Being a child
Brain damage