A serious case of focal retrograde amnesia

I’ve been notified of a rare case of focal retrograde amnesia that doesn’t seem to have been reported in the medical literature.

Focal retrograde amnesia is where memory for past events and personal information is lost, while the ability to remember new events is spared.

The case is described in Mr Bump Loses His Memory by Roger Hargreaves (ISBN 1844229866).

In this instance, amnesia seems to have been induced by falling out of the window while attempting to smell flowers in a window box.

BUMP!

Mr Bump sat up and rubbed his head. And as he rubbed, it dawned on him that he had no idea where he was.

He had no idea whose garden he was sitting in.

He had no idea whose house he was sitting in front of.

And he had no idea who he was.

Mr Bump had lost his memory.

Focal retrograde amnesia has been reported both after clear brain injury (particularly to temporal lobes) and when there is an absence of detectable brain damage.

The latter condition is sometimes called ‘functional’ or ‘psychogenic’ amnesia, and it might result from emotional disturbance rather than permanent impairment to memory structures in the brain.

As no neurological investigations were conducted after Mr Bump’s concussive head injury (despite clear indications of past traumatic injury), it is not possible to determine whether his amnesia was the result of organic damage or distress-related psychogenic factors.

As Mr Bump’s memory difficulties resolve after another minor blow to his head it is unlikely that the return of his memory can be explained by the spontaneous recovery of brain function, as this might only be exacerbated by further damage.

This might suggest that the original amnesia was psychogenic in nature. This make the case a particularly interesting example of this rare phenomena and additionally suggests a good prognosis for Mr Bump’s recovery of memory function.

However, in light of obvious past injuries, Mr Bump should be offered a full neurological and psychological assessment so any undetected neuropathology or psychiatric disorder or can be treated at the earliest opportunity.

Link to more on Mr Bump (thanks Tenyen!).

5 Comments

  1. Posted January 23, 2007 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    that’s me!

  2. Alisha
    Posted May 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    This is what i have i only have 9 months of memory and i’m 21 never found a diagnosis for it :)

    • Tammy
      Posted February 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      My son who is 17 has this lost 17 years of who he is, i would love to talk to someone who has gone through this it has been 5months and no regain of memory.

      • Jane
        Posted May 30, 2013 at 1:10 am | Permalink

        My daughter is 15 and missing 5 yrs of her memory .we live in the La area. and I am surprised by the lack of understanding for her retrograde amnesia. Any one in the area please email me with any advice . We are still looking for an educated health care provider to help her with her problen aktstars@gmail.com

      • shirley williams
        Posted March 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        18 months ago my 53 year old husband went to bed ,I do not know what happened to him,i only know I found him on the floor in a state of distress unable to communicate or co ordinate his limbs. He was taken into hospital, had numerous tests and was put on to a drip. By morning as my husband state of confusion improved it became obvious that my husband did not know me or members of our family. My husband has autobiographical amnesia so he has no memories of anything pre
        September 2012, which is very distressing. We are having to wait until May of this year to see a specialist for an assesment to find out if there is any treatment available to reverse the condition. I only foundout today that my husbands condition is called Focal Retrograde amnesia. I hope that your son’s memory will eventually return, good luck for the future.


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