I don’t remember…: living with amnesia

The amnesia refers to memory malfunction and can be due to various causes. These can be organic, such as brain injury, illness, or the use of certain substances. For example, a epilepsy or thyroid disease can affect memory. Or functional causes, where we find the psychological traumas that lead to memory loss as a defense mechanism.

Likewise, the types of amnesia are differentiated according to the chronology. In other words, if what is not remembered is what happened before a specific date, it is called retrograde. If what fails is the generation of new long-term memories, it is a anterograde amnesia.

memory and cinema

To better understand it, we can take as an example 2 famous films for having perfectly described anterograde amnesia. The first is Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan and based on a story by his brother. In addition to being famous for his editing style, since does not progress chronologically but it continuously jumps back and forth, this is also because it features a protagonist with a severe memory impairment. After seeing how his wife is raped and murdered, he receives a severe blow which causes anterograde amnesia. Every morning he wakes up not knowing where he is, what has happened since the attack and who he has met since. He uses photographs on the back of which he writes the name of the individual and other essential information, as well as tattoos, which mark the clues he has found in the murder of his wife. Every day you have to review everything and take new notes.

The other film that shows us a similar case is that of 50 first dates. Here, a charming Drew Barrymore, who was ET’s girlfriend, suffers a traffic accident on her father’s birthday which also prevents her from generating new memories. But in this case, the reaction of his family is avoid trauma by making him believe that every day he wakes up is always the same date. Every day he repeats the same routine and they leave him a copy of the newspaper from that fateful date in his favorite cafeteria. The one who pulls her out of this false reality is Adam Sandler, who falls in love with her and does the impossible every day to be able to win her back again and again, while trying to convince the family that she must explain to him what which is really happening. Barrymore remembers what he does from morning to night and it’s when he falls asleep that everything fades away.

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