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.
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!).