View Full Version : memory loss

04-17-2014, 01:02 AM
I have a story that I've been waiting to write for quite a long time. But to start it, I have to know more about people suffering from memory loss (after a trauma for instance), if possible complete memeory loss.
Has anyone some info about that?

04-17-2014, 01:05 AM
This is a huge topic. Have you done any google research, or tried visiting a library? If so, are there any specific questions about what you've found that you need more information about.

If not, please do some basic research first.

04-17-2014, 01:05 AM
This might be a good place to start:


If you scroll down there's a bit on unusual causes of memory loss.

04-17-2014, 02:20 AM
Lots of questions here, so it would be helpful if you could narrow down your topic.
Personally, I have partial amnesia. But what do you want to know?

04-17-2014, 05:57 AM
Best bet is to figure out what kind of memory loss works best for your story, then do research into what might cause this. Complete short-term memory loss is rare, but there are a few documented cases.

04-17-2014, 09:14 AM
I've already done some research, but I need some detailed infos I can't find about when someone wakes up after an accident with no memory at all for instance.
I had wondered about going to a hospital to ask some patients but I'm not sure I'd be allowed.

04-17-2014, 11:18 AM
Speaking from someone who has experienced trama based memory loss I can at least point out what went on with me.

My trama was from horseback riding. The horse spooked at something.

Now, I can remember most of that day and what happened.

When I came out of it I was holding a saddle in the stall and completely confused. You can feel that your body's internal clock says it's 'this time' but your head can't comprehend that it's really that late. It wants to think it's earlier because 'that would make more sense'. This is partially because the mind tries to protect itself from trauma or so I am told.

I had to look at an actual clock to figure out if I was starting my lesson or just finished it because my mind was telling me two different things and I wasn't sure what to believe. The closest I can get to describing it is that 'where the hell did I put my car keys' feeling when you're really in a rush. It's not so much disorientation and confusion as it is frustration and puzzlement, with a bit of uncertainty thrown in.

Next someone asked me if I was alright as I was leaving the barn. I had shrugged off the time lapse as not paying attention and despite my lack of helmet, a shredded shirt and a limp it never crossed my mind that I had had a bad fall.

So I could help but feel confused that someone would ask me that. I felt okay, why would I not be okay?

Turns out my helmet wasn't on because it had literally all but shattered from the force of impact and that my shirt was ripped because the horse's hooves had shredded it. My limp was caused by almost having my leg torn off and it was in fact much worse off then I had thought, later needing surgery.

I felt confused, shock, horror (because I'm all too aware of how close I came) disbelief, a sense of dislocation. Remember that even as I'm being told that all of this happened and that dispite the condition of my body it wasn't just a sick joke, I still don't remember it having happened. It's like someone telling you that you made a fool of yourself last night when you were drunk, refusing to show you the video they claimed to have taken, but not remembering anything except having had a good time. Combine that with the feelings associated with having heard about something aweful happening far away that actually has nothing to do with you personally.

You don't really believe it.

Not until a few hours later (for me anyway) when you keep worrying over what just happened, why can't you remember? Surely you would remember something like that right? I got my head caved in almost... Not really something one forgets is it?

Your brain starts coming up with a sorta half memory thing where it's taking the holes and filling them with a combination of actual memory and what you've been told happened and what you were told they saw. I even had what felt like genuine memories that actually contradicted themselves as my brain tried to fill in the holes.

It's scary as hell once you've realized that your remembering things but they might not be real but you can't remember most of it and this memory contradicts that memory.

It's not just visual memory your mind supplies itself with (real or invented) but you also get different pain messages too. At one point it felt like I had a bad bruise but my 'memories' were insisting they had seen bone sticking out and yet when you check, your mind still insists that it's not just a bruise, oh and here's a new memory that tells you what really happened (but is it really the real memory or is it just your mind playing tricks again?).

You also get emotions and stray/random thoughts brought up with the memories that don't necessarily make sense to what's happening. The emotions though are more reliable then actual memory. I can remember calmly deciding I had to bail before I fell under the horse and got trampled yet how does that make sense when your dangling mostly off a panicked horse? Yet at the same time it does make sense. A chice between being trampled to death and possibly a broken bone and the choice isn't that hard after all. You don't really have time to be afraid you just do. Emotions aren't something you think about they just are so your mind can't fake them with the same believability that it can with the other senses.

If you hit your head hard enough you never get back all your memories.

You remember bits and pieces, but they don't seem disjointed to you. It's like when playing on a computer and one minute it's 5 o'clock and when you next glance at the clock it's 3 am and yet you swear it hasn't been that long.

Some memories are disjointed though, like someone's taken out a spoonful of time and you can't remember what was going on. I can't remember walking into the tack room to look at the clock but I can remember that's what I had decided I was going to do and I'm standing I front of the tackroom's clock so I must have walked there right?.

Another thing to note. It's not just the accident you forget. Even after you return to a normalish state of mind and your aware of the memory loss and why, so still have moments (small ones) days later where you suddenly don't remember what you just did or how you got on the bus when you were just packing your backpack for school.

It's been almost 10 years now and I still have no memory from about 15 minutes into my lesson (abouts when the accident occurred) to when I was standing in the stall with a saddle in my arms, about 45 minutes later.

From all accounts I acted completely normal and I showed no sign of a concussion. I could follow a finger, answer questions. Yet obviously I did have a concussion.

I do recall now being crumpled on the ground and being told not to move. But when I think of it I can't remember why I wasn't supposed to move and I don't remember any pain... Yet when I'm not recalling that particular memory I can understand what happened and why I wasn't supposed to move.

I could probably explain better if I had a situation to examine.

That might have been my worst case but it's not the only one I've had. The downside of enjoying high risk activities... Rattling the brain cage is not healthy but at times the risk is worth it.

04-17-2014, 08:14 PM
I've already done some research, but I need some detailed infos I can't find about when someone wakes up after an accident with no memory at all for instance.
I had wondered about going to a hospital to ask some patients but I'm not sure I'd be allowed.

Arcan, it will still help if you can narrow down your questions a bit, as this is a broad topic. Here is (just a tiny bit of) my own experiences:

I was in a severe car accident at age 17. I was in a coma and on life support for 11 days. I don't remember ANY of it. I don't remember the accident. I only have a couple of really vague memories of the hospital.

I am told that when I woke up, I was thoroughly confused because, as I said, I don't remember the accident, and I didn't know where I was.

I have lost most of my memories of the years surrounding the accident. Some of it came back later... most of it is gone.

Waking up with total amnesia - INCREDIBLY RARE, and incredibly difficult to write.

04-17-2014, 10:32 PM
Thanks Kitsune and melindamusil. It already helps me quite a lot. That's great. You've already answered many of my questions.

To narrow my questions, here's some of my plot.
My MC wakes up in hospital but doesn't remember any of his friends of family. he has some feelings about his past but doesn't remember, and doesn't want to remember some things (bad feeling about them).

The only question left : if the feeling about a souvenir about to come back is bad, would it be possible that not wanting to remember prevents from remembering?

If you don't mind, I'll ask you to read my first chapter to see if it fits what you've lied? (It will take me a while to write it...)

04-17-2014, 11:00 PM
What we need to know specifically is not the plot, but what information you need. Are you looking for medical information, how the MC is feeling, what his family and friends might be going through? We can't really help without knowing what you need from us.

04-17-2014, 11:52 PM
Actually I don't need to know what the family's feeling. Just what my MC's bound to feel when he wakes up and what can happen when his feeling toward his lost past are negative. Medical infos are welcome but I should -or have already- find enough of those on the net.

04-18-2014, 12:30 AM
I was IN a coma and I can't tell you what I felt when I woke up. I don't remember it. Period.

I can tell you that the people who were with me (family and doctors) said I looked confused.

What do you WANT your character to feel?

04-18-2014, 01:24 AM
I'd want him to be calm and curious, just conflicted between what people tell him about himself and the feeling he gets.
Between my research and what you've already told me, I already have a much better idea of what I can do with my MC. Thanks