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Stijn Hommes
12-18-2010, 11:24 PM
I'd like to give one character amnesia after being hit on the head during an attack. My MC and a couple of friends will find her and have her sent off to the hospital to be checked out.

It would make for some nice drama if the police could suspect her of committing the crime. How would the doctors at the hospital go about checking if the amnesia was real or faked? Could they tell the difference? Would it be a reasonable assumption of the police that she could simply have faked the attack?

LBlankenship
12-19-2010, 12:18 AM
Is she bleeding? Bruised? How long was she unconscious? If she has a head wound, they should check for internal bleeding.

Stanmiller
12-19-2010, 12:52 AM
Stjin,

It's as much of a cliche as the villain twirling his mustache as he ties the heroine to the railroad tracks in vintage westerns. Handle with care, and only if you can make it convincing by researching the medical terminology. Otherwise it may provoke amusement rather than the dramatic effect you want.

Stan

Stijn Hommes
12-19-2010, 01:37 AM
Is she bleeding? Bruised? How long was she unconscious? If she has a head wound, they should check for internal bleeding. The bleeding or bruising is still a black hole. Whether she has either really depends on what fits best with the plot. I haven't decided yet what she's going to be hit with. '

Even if there is no external bleeding, they're going to be careful and do some overnight observation at the hospital since she has been been unconcious for quite a while.

I do know she would be unconcious for at least 15 minutes before being found, although the people finding her wouldn't know that. I'll definitely have her checked for internal bleeding, but I'd really like to know how they would check her brain function when she comes round.

Stijn Hommes
12-19-2010, 01:38 AM
Stjin,

It's as much of a cliche as the villain twirling his mustache as he ties the heroine to the railroad tracks in vintage westerns. Handle with care, and only if you can make it convincing by researching the medical terminology. Otherwise it may provoke amusement rather than the dramatic effect you want. Stan Not to worry, Stan. I will research this carefully. There is just one piece missing.

cbenoi1
12-19-2010, 01:40 AM
PTA ( LINK (http://www.itim.nsw.gov.au/go/knowledge-base/clinical-resources/head-and-facial-injuries/other-information-on-head-injuries/post-traumatic-amnesia-pta)) can last from a few minutes to a few hours. It's not a blanket memory lapse as most would think but rather a form of "memory islands" where recent events are cloudy and the patient has some difficulty connecting the dots. The way to use it in a novel is to give enough time for the attacker to escape. Beyond that...

-cb

Stijn Hommes
12-19-2010, 02:35 AM
Thanks. That link is very helpful.

It does mean I will either need to give her serious brain injury or simply make sure the attacker came from behind so she can't ID him even if she gets her memory back. But at least I can use a realistic time frame now...

Drachen Jager
12-19-2010, 03:38 AM
I agree with Stan here. Amnesia is as bad as, "It was all just a dream." Smacks of amateur hour.

BudBoxer
12-19-2010, 03:55 AM
Amnesia for a writer is hard work. It takes some flashes of reality, that don't connect. As Cebenoi said, "memory islands." Those can be fun, if they slowly illuminate the story for the readers. Otherwise, they do come off as gimmick. Sounds like an interesting proposition. Good luck!

Kitti
12-19-2010, 07:08 AM
Another form of amnesia that you might want to consider is temporary anterograde amnesia, which isn't often written about. (The movie 50 First Dates is the only one that comes to mind off the top of my head.) In that case, the memory would have never formed, so it would never "come back" to your MC. I had a post-op case of this once and it was weird to say the least.

cbenoi1
12-19-2010, 05:50 PM
Thanks. That link is very helpful.

It does mean I will either need to give her serious brain injury or simply make sure the attacker came from behind so she can't ID him even if she gets her memory back. But at least I can use a realistic time frame now...
It could mean that the victim would be in a state to give enough details of the attacker within hours of the event to the police - race, height, clothing, etc. Then a day or two later, remember that the attacker wore this exotic perfume or that special tattoo and that would be the trail to follow.

-cb