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Paralyzing fear of forgetfulness

  1. Nov 30, 2008 #1
    I don't know whether these particular anxieties will sound reasonable or ridiculous, but I would like to know if there is some way of minimizing them. I am very hesitant to pick up math books and learn the concepts in them because I fear I will forget all of the material I read about. It's a completely irrational fear, as I've proven myself very capable in all of the math classes I've taken, and my recall is very strong. Yet I still find myself, late at night, suddenly thinking that I might have forgotten, say, the formulas for the derivatives of elementary functions, so I will run through the entire list to make sure I remember everything. Every week or so I imagine myself thinking I've forgotten conic sections, so I run through all of the details of those in my head. And so on. Every time it is something I already know (and can recall) that worries me. It's gotten past being a "good study habit" and is becoming a real pain, as it happens quite often.

    I also do this with novels sometimes, thinking I've forgotten everything about them. Anyone else run into similar issues?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2008 #2
    well.. so what if you forget? You can always revise them when the need arises.

    So for me, I don't really care about forgetting stuff, if I don't use it much, no point remembering it.
  4. Nov 30, 2008 #3
    sounds a little obsessive compulsive. pretty common, actually.
  5. Dec 1, 2008 #4
    Yeah, but... it's math, I have to remember EVERYTHING, or else how am I going to have the tools to solve problems I encounter?

    I don't know, I'm very fascinated with mathematics, but every time something slips out of my mind it feels awful, like I wasted my time learning it. Very irrational.
  6. Dec 1, 2008 #5
    I think that's wrong. You don't need to remember everything. Trying to remember everything is a bit against the philosophy of mathematics study. You have to be able to make a reasoning, and for this you don't need to know everything. The only thing you need to remember is where you can find the information you need, and some basic information.

    The most important part is to understand all the mathematics you study. If you understand them well, it's very easy to read them again and to use them.
  7. Dec 1, 2008 #6
    There was a mathematician who had a terrible memory. He proved a theorem and forgot it while he was trying to explain it to a group of people. One of them had read his paper and had to help him remember his own theorem!
  8. Dec 1, 2008 #7
    You just have to remember concepts. There are tables of common antiderivatives and such for a reason.
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