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Phaedo
12-12-2008, 07:54 PM
Can a person have a temporary amnesia (from a head wound) and remember parts of information but in very random manner? - Is it possible that he would not remember his name, his relatives or where his home is, but could tell you how to get to the supermarket on such and such street?

Sorry if I posted in the wrong thread. Thanks

RJK
12-12-2008, 07:59 PM
One of the monitors will probably move you.
A whack on the left side will affect the side where words are generated but the right side, where spacial relationships are stored wouldn't be affected. Your character could probably take you to the supermarket or to his house but couldn't name them.

Just a lay person's knowledge, I'm sure an expert will be along shortly.

Phaedo
12-12-2008, 08:09 PM
Sorry. Where's the place to post this then? This is for my WIP's 1st Chapter.
Thanks for the info, RJK.

That's the thing, see. It's important that he forgot where he lives but remembers the other place. Not possible?

Charlie Horse
12-12-2008, 08:26 PM
Anything's possible. It's up to you to make it believable.

NeuroFizz
12-12-2008, 08:43 PM
You have quite a bit of research ahead of you. Temporary damage to the brain will be extremely variable depending on which part(s) of the brain is (are) impacted. If you get into the various brain regions, you should be able to find impairments characteristic of temporary challenges to those areas. You also have some artistic leeway since your are writing fiction. However, you need to keep it close to reality. The good news is that every person is an individual, and that applies to brain function and brain response to injury as much as it does to variations in extrenal anatomical features of the individuals.

willietheshakes
12-12-2008, 08:45 PM
Sorry - what was the question?

The Lonely One
12-12-2008, 08:55 PM
Watch "Memento." This very issue is addressed and the film is quite entertaining.

Phaedo
12-12-2008, 10:23 PM
Thanks, guys. Very helpful. "every person is an individual" - that answers it.

Tirjasdyn
12-12-2008, 10:31 PM
Can a person have a temporary amnesia (from a head wound) and remember parts of information but in very random manner? - Is it possible that he would not remember his name, his relatives or where his home is, but could tell you how to get to the supermarket on such and such street?

Sorry if I posted in the wrong thread. Thanks

My brother, in a misguided attempt to sneak out of the house, fell off the roof and landed on his head. He had amnesia for three days. Couldn't tell you who he was or where he lived. But he knew where the school was and that he was supposed to be there at a certain time for class.

So I'd say yes.

Cyia
12-12-2008, 10:44 PM
It all depends on what part of the noggin gets whacked and if the damage is due to temporary swelling or actual permanent damage. Even just saying he hit the "front" of his head can mean different things. Hit one spot and you lose recent memory (like memento - frontal neo cortex, if I remember right); hit another and you alter the person's whole personality. Hit somewhere in the middle and you get the guy eating a chicken fried steak in the hospital while the surgeons try and figure out how to get the three foot metal pole out of his head without killing him.

Feathers
12-12-2008, 10:52 PM
Sorry. Where's the place to post this then?

I would try posting this in the story research forum (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=-1&f=66). It's a really helpful, and you'll probably get advice from some medical professionals.

-Feathers

Phaedo
12-12-2008, 11:01 PM
Yay, I was looking for that! This forum is huge.

Shweta
12-13-2008, 03:16 PM
Moved to the story research forum.


One of the monitors will probably move you.
A whack on the left side will affect the side where words are generated but the right side, where spacial relationships are stored wouldn't be affected. Your character could probably take you to the supermarket or to his house but couldn't name them.

Just ftr, it's way more complicated than this :)


You have quite a bit of research ahead of you

What Neuro says :D

Here's the real issue. You need to make it sound plausible. And especially in the beginning of a book, amnesia is too close to cliche to be easy. You need to make it sound like you know what you're talking about, or you risk losing your reader in a big way.


It all depends on what part of the noggin gets whacked and if the damage is due to temporary swelling or actual permanent damage.

Quoted for truth


Even just saying he hit the "front" of his head can mean different things. Hit one spot and you lose recent memory (like memento - frontal neo cortex, if I remember right);

In Memento, the protag suffers hippocampal damage, I think. Smack to the back of the head, not the front. The famous real case where this happened (well, surgery, not a smack), HM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HM_%28patient%29), just passed away.

Anyway, that was permanent damage, not temporary.


Hit somewhere in the middle and you get the guy eating a chicken fried steak in the hospital while the surgeons try and figure out how to get the three foot metal pole out of his head without killing him.
ref. Phineas Gage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage). The brain is a strange place.

Couple links you might find useful:
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1709
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Amnesia?open

Phaedo
12-13-2008, 04:57 PM
Thanks so much, Shweta. Most exhaustive info. Great articles.

Gillhoughly
12-13-2008, 08:57 PM
Google is your friend.

Amnesia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amnesia)

More amnesia (http://www.athealth.com/Consumer/Disorders/Amnesia.html).

Still more amnesia (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/amnesia/DS01041).

Transient global amnesia (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/transient-global-amnesia/DS01022).

Still more TGA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transient_global_amnesia).

You can google about head trauma symptoms on your own.

Just so you know, when a person sustains a head injury bad enough to knock them out, they won't remember it. They can lose days of memory, even years. The brain is shaken around like Jell-o and bounces against the skull bone and doesn't do well.

Post trauma may include days or weeks of nausea and barfing, inability to balance and walk straight, and often long term permanent damage. Don't take aspirin, I forget why, but it's bad. Something about blood flow and swelling.

Writers have been ignoring that for years. I did too for some time, but have gotten better. Now I just don't knock my MCs out, but they "stun" into immobility beautifully. Nothing like a sock in the gut to take one's breath away for a crucial instant.

Some years ago a woman claimed a "bushy haired man" knocked her out and stole her baby. She called it in hours later because she'd been lying on the kitchen floor, unconscious, but gave a good description of the man and events. A huge hunt followed, and some time later the poor dead infant was found in a rubbish can a few miles away in the next state.

The investigators immediately focused on the mother as prime suspect long before they found the body. They they full well knew she shouldn't have been able to remember any of it. Later they matched the patterning of the trash bag to the ones in her pantry and made their arrest.

I would hope that the heartless moron is still in jail.http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon8.gif

And you might consider NOT getting overly technical. Unless you're writing a medical techno-thriller where you have to use accurate info, it's okay to pull back into a "less is more" style.

Doctors can tell your MC what's wrong, but all he knows is he can't walk to the toilet without a cane and shuffling like an old man. You can contrast outside info (not being specific) with his internal monologue.

And don't go overboard on sharing your research.

You'll find that covered in the Turkey City Lexicon (http://www.sfwa.org/writing/turkeycity.html).

"I've suffered for my Art" (and now it's your turn)

A form of info-dump in which the author inflicts upon the reader hard-won, but irrelevant bits of data acquired while researching the story. As Algis Budrys once pointed out, homework exists to make the difficult look easy.


.

Shweta
12-14-2008, 01:30 AM
And you might consider NOT getting overly technical. Unless you're writing a medical techno-thriller where you have to use accurate info, it's okay to pull back into a "less is more" style.

Doctors can tell your MC what's wrong, but all he knows is he can't walk to the toilet without a cane and shuffling like an old man. You can contrast outside info (not being specific) with his internal monologue.

And don't go overboard on sharing your research.
.

Agreed, but the stereotypical fictional amnesia case, lying quiet and beautiful in hospital going "Who am I? Where am I?", is a way of sharing lack of research.

I'd say do the research, figure out everything the character would experience. Then focus only on what the character experiences and, unless it's medical thriller (at which point I suggest doing years more research) throw out all the technical stuff you've learned.

greatfish
12-15-2008, 03:45 PM
From what I've read, most people with the type of amnesia you describe lose their ability to recall specific details, but still retain emotional and repetitive memory. So a man might not be able to remember his wife's name or what she looks like, but when he sees her, the same emotions he usually feels for her present themselves and he knows that she is his wife. He may also be able to play through a song on piano that he used to practice everyday without being able to recall the name or the notes involved.

So for the situation you described, my guess would be your MC could get to the supermarket, but wouldn't be able to recall the directions to getting there if someone asked.