What's amnesia really like? [do not read if triggering]

[if this topic is sensitive or triggering to you, do not proceed] and if this topic is in the wrong section, apologies. It’s not really a writing question and neither is it about “All Wellness” because it’s not about me or anyone I know. Idk.

I’ve written a character with amnesia before and it was caused by a curse and the character was aware that he forgets yesterday at the strike of midnight. It’s like amnesia but not really I guess.

I’m now wondering what it’s really like to wake up and not know who you are or what you’ve done or where you are or how long you were asleep.

I read, er, listened to Project Hail Mary which is about a character with amnesia. And little incidents or things around him would trigger his memory. It’s a memory that gives him his name. Then little by little he is even able to force himself to remember. He soon does remember why he’s there and then later remembers how it happened. There’s chapter-long sequences of flashbacks.

I wonder if flashbacks are that long?

What’s amnesia really like? I feel like it could be scary to not know your name, but how long does it take for you to even think about your name. Like, I don’t think about what my name is every day. Would you really realize you don’t know your name after waking up?

You guys got anything?

Update September 2023: The story this was for, is put to the side. But I still may include amnesia as part of the story (I’ll write it someday). Probably amnesia caused by an emotionally traumatic experience, if that’s possible. Idk. Not an expert. Anything you can offer would be great.

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I had a similar situation with the character Freyja. Although Freyja doesn’t have amnesia, because she has no memories to forget…her conscious life began at the (apparent) age of fourteen, and in the story’s second chapter…Though I think the other characters who don’t know Freyja’s secret (that she is a prototype clone) will treat / be told Freyja is a orphan teenage girl with severe amnesia to excuse / explain her nature.

Anyway, some interesting points I discovered in my character research.

  • There is a difference between brain-based memory and genetic / evolutionary memory…No such thing as a blank slate character / person…
  • Fragments of genetic memories or personality quirks can be inherited through organ donations.
  • Memories and communication / language abilities are ‘stored’ in separate areas of the brain.
  • Memories or skills can be trained to become instinctive, a part of your subconscious memory. There’s some truth to the saying ‘like riding a bike’.

Here are some shows with interesting interpretations of amnesia.
Gunslinger Girl (anime), The Long Kiss Goodnight, Bourne Identity, Altered Carbon (second season), Finding Nemo, Memento, Code Geass (anime).


It’s a variable disease.

My roommate had a stroke which took her all the way back to highschool, gave her a few memories that were false, and to this day she’s aware of how much time has based but can’t recall a lot about some boyfriends that were years of her life. She also has lost the ability to process things if you change the angle of where they are at, has little to no filter left, lacks self-control.

I mean, this is a woman who could have 1 piece of candy and walk away who now will eat a whole bag and not notice. That is detrimental to a diabetic. She snaps so easily now, has a hard time handling kids. She’s not really safe to drive anymore.

So yes, personality changes are a part of that, for some people.

One of the weirder traits is that short-term memory is wonky, so I can tell her something for days on end, but if it reaches long term memory, it sticks.

Basically, anything g she gets back within 2 years from the event are what she gets back. Anything still lost isn’t coming back.

Her stroke was to the back of her brain.


So. I know how it works in dissociative disorders and when someone removes your removes your hippocampus.

Your hippocampus is responsible for the memories of transferring your memories from the short-term memory to your long-term memory. If it’s removed, you lose the ability to make new audio and visual memories, and your life is basically stuck in time. Right now I’m referencing HM’s case study, you can look him up if you would like.

Then there’s dissociative amnesia. There is dissociative fugue, where you forget who or where you are. Then you assume a new identity for a couple hours until your memories return.

There’s also DID. Switches (changing who controls the DID system’s body) between alters often results in blackouts, and inability to remember things between alters. For example, if alter A fronts (takes control of the body) and Alter B goes into the headspace, alter B won’t remember what happened during the time that alter A fronted.

There’s also emotional amnesia, which is when you remember an event, but not the emotions that you felt during said event. Maybe you have a vague idea sometimes but often but it’s mostly empty.


That is interesting. I’ve never heard of that type. I wonder what it’s like… :thinking:

I can probably find videos.

Anyway, thanks for the response. The story this was for is currently put to the side. I kind of have to figure out where and how I want it to go. The injection idea I had is weird.

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Haha. You’re welcome.

The amnesia is kind of like… you might remember the event, the NAMES of the emotions you felt during said event, but not the emotions THEMSELVES. you can’t access them. It’s like they got lost. Basically it’s like you’re watching a movie on mute.

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