Sunday’s breaking news in Thailand was that an Australian man, missing for more than a month, was discovered across the border in Cambodia. Financial consultant, Nathan Hansford, was involved in a motor vehicle accident after leaving his home in Bangkok on January 31 and is now suffering from amnesia.
In my soon-to-be-published novel, Hong Kong Treasure, Annie suffers from amnesia after a typhoon in the Philippines. She wakes up in a church shelter not knowing who she is or why she was in the Philippines.
So I thought it might be interesting to blog about some famous cases of amnesia.
First, you need to know there are two main types of amnesia; retrograde and anterograde.
Retrograde amnesia is the inability to retrieve information that was acquired before a certain date – usually the date of the injury. These cases can extend back decades or only a few months.
Anterograde amnesia is the inability to transfer new information from short-term storage to long-term storage. (Think Dory from the movie, Finding Nemo)
The first famous case is Clive Wearing, a British musicologist, conductor, tenor and keyboardist who suffers from both retrograde and anterograde amnesia. On March 27, 1985 at the height of his career, Wearing contracted a rare form of the Herpes virus which attacks the central nervous system. His memory loss is total although he still recalls how to play the piano and conduct a choir; however, his current memory last only 7 to 30 seconds at a time. His wife, Deborah, has written a book about his case entitled, Forever Today, and Wearing’s story has also been featured in many documentaries, journal articles and an episode on a TLC series, Medical Incredible.
The second famous case is Michelle Philpots, who in 1985 suffered a head injury in a motorcycle accident then five years later re-injured her head in a serious car accident. Those two accidents did enough accumulative damage to cause Philpots to have seizures and be diagnosed with epilepsy. Four years later she was suffering from anterograde amnesia and had completely lost the ability to create new memories. Philpots case resembles the comedy movie, 50 First Dates.
The last famous case is one of my favorite mystery authors, Agatha Christie. On the evening of December 3, 1926, thirty-six year old, Christie mysteriously vanished. The next morning her abandoned car was found one hour away from her home. On December 14, Christie is found registered as Teresa Neele at a hotel and she has no memory of the previous 11 days. At the time there was controversy whether this case was a hoax, a publicity stunt aimed to increase readership or an actual medical case. At the time of Christie’s disappearance her mother had passed away and her husband had requested a divorce to marry his mistress (Teresa Neele – yes the same name Christie was registered under) so there was speculation that Christie had entered into a ‘fugue state’ which caused her temporary memory loss.
What’s better than a mystery writer with a mysterious past?
In Hong Kong Treasure Annie does regain her memory but it reveals a danger which threatens her life with Deshi Han.
Hong Kong Treasure – A deadly Philippines typhoon stole Annie’s memory. Now can a handsome Chinese stranger save her from a danger she has forgotten?
Coming this summer from Assent Publishing.