This week: I can't rememberEdited by: Arakun the Twisted Raccoon
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Quote for the week: No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.
Imagine waking up in a hospital bed with no idea how you got there. Worse yet, people gather around your bed claiming to be your family or friends, but you don't know who they are.
Amnesia, or the inability to remember, can result from a head injury, psychological trauma, drug or alcohol use, or degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
Anterograde amnesia is the inability to form new memories or learn new skills, while retrograde amnesia is the inability to recall the past. Some patients may experience both types, which may or may not be permanent, depending on the extent of the injury. People seldom forget basic information such as their identity or how to walk or eat.
All brain injuries do not cause amnesia. It depends on the area of the brain that is injured and the severity of the injury.
An individual with retrograde amnesia is more likely to forget recent events than older memories. An accident victim might not recall the events immediately leading up to the accident. Maybe your character's injury was not an accident at all, and the person who caused it wants to make sure they don't remember!
People with Alzheimer's or dementia may not remember what happened yesterday, while the have perfect recall of events of fifty years ago. This type of memory loss usually does not happen all at once, but may start with isolated incidents that become more frequent. Maybe your character needs to find a vital piece of information that is locked in a dementia victim's lost memories.
Sometimes a person who has no physical injury but has been through a severe shock or psychological trauma may forget the disturbing event. This is the mind's way of coping with something too terrible to remember. If this happens to your character, you might give the character and the reader clues to what actually happened. The person might have flashes of memory triggered by a song, a scent, or an image.
Total amnesia, or completely forgetting who you are and all events of your past life is very rare. If your character experiences total amnesia, make sure you have a believable reason, such as a strange drug or mind control.
Of course, a character might pretend to have amnesia as a defense for committing a crime or as an excuse for some suspicious action. If this happens, part of the challenge for investigators might be figuring out they are faking and how to prove it.
Something to try: Write a mystery story that features a character with amnesia.
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