Amnesia is a brain disorder which causes a person to forget things, events, people, etc. It is very difficult for an amnesia patient to recollect the past and plan for the future. This is because whatever plans we make for our future are mostly dependent on our past life events. One is not able to recognize faces. It has been seen in many cases that amnesia patients have failed in recognizing their own children, spouses, and any immediate family member. The memory loss caused by amnesia can be either short-term or long term depending upon the situation as amnesia is mainly caused by any kind of brain damage, internal injury, stress, or the use of any particular kind of drugs, mainly sedatives. In some cases, amnesia is also caused due to genetic factors.
Forgetfulness and amnesia
Most people confuse amnesia with forgetfulness, but it is not so. Most people are forgetful and find it difficult to remember certain things, but amnesia refers to total loss of a large part of a person’s memory and retention capabilities. In case of amnesia patient, one forgets one’s close family members and friends completely. People also forget their own names and milestone events like marriage, the birth of one’s children and so on. Not only do they have faced problems in remembering their past life but amnesia patients are also not able to learn new information and retain them in their mind. It should, however, be noted that forgetfulness is a common condition experienced by many, but amnesia is a very rare condition, and only one out of ten thousand people are known to suffer from this disorder.
Common causes of amnesia
Amnesia can either occur out of neurological causes
or out of psychological causes
. Let’s get to know that what these neurological and psychological causes are:
By neurological causes of amnesia, we mean amnesia that is caused due to an injury in the brain. These kinds of injuries can be a result of a stroke, a brain tumor, brain hemorrhage, misuse of sleeping pills, lack of oxygen supply in the brain, carbon monoxide poisoning, other infections in the brain
and so on.
On the other hand, we have a wide range of psychological factors as well that is said to play a vital role causes of amnesia. People fall prey to amnesia owing to psychological reasons that affect the functioning of the brain. These causes can be shocking due to sexual abuse or child abuse, due to a natural disaster, terrorist attack or any other brutal crime.
Classification of amnesia
Amnesia is classified into several categories. They are:-
- Transient global amnesia – If a patient has been diagnosed with transient global amnesia, then he or she will have a brief and temporary memory loss. He will also face difficulties in retaining new information in the mind.
- Traumatic amnesia – Traumatic amnesia is mainly caused by accidents such as road accidents or falling from a height. It occurs as a result of a head injury to the head. People often slip into a coma or suffer memory loss for a short period of time. The level of amnesia is actually dependent on the level of the injury caused.
- Retrograde amnesia – This is caused due to traumatic incidents where the patient is not able to recall incidents that occurred before the trauma but are able to remember events that occur after the trauma.
- Anterograde amnesia – This kind of amnesia is the reverse of retrograde amnesia. People who are diagnosed with anterograde amnesia find difficulty in remembering post-trauma incidents but are easily able to recollect the events that occurred before the trauma.
- Hysterical amnesia – This is perhaps the rarest and the most dangerous kind of amnesia in which the patient not only forgets past events and people connected with his or her life but he or she forgets his own identity as well. These patients are not even able to recollect their own names and not able to recognize their own reflection in the mirror.
- Source amnesia – In this case, patients are able to remember data but are not able to locate the data source.
- Prosopamnesia – A patient has a disability of prosopamnesia finds it difficult to recognize faces.
- Blackout phenomenon – This is mostly caused as a result of drinking hangovers when people are not able to recollect the events that occurred during their binge.
- Posthypnotic amnesia – This is that kind of amnesia when the patient is not able to recall the events that occurred during the hypnosis procedure.
- Infantile amnesia – Also known as childhood amnesia, infantile amnesia is one in which the patient is not able to remember events that occurred during the early days of his or her childhood.
- Wernike Korsakoff’s syndrome – This type of amnesia occurs mainly due to alcoholism or malnutrition and is often accompanied by certain neurological disorders as well.