But sometimes people have memory problems. Amnesia can occur, for example, after an injury or illness. However, there are also cases where there were no clear reasons for this. The man’s memories were simply erased, and he did not remember anything about how he lived before.
The adventures of a carpenter
In January 1887, a 61-year-old resident of Coventry, Rhode Island, USA, named Ansel Bourne , disappeared without a trace. By profession he was a carpenter and an evangelical preacher.
The man simply left the city, taking with him all the savings. It was subsequently revealed that he went to Norristown, Pennsylvania and opened a stationery store there, calling himself Albert J. Brown .
On March 14 of the same year, the imaginary Brown woke up and realized that his name was Ansel Bourne and he was a carpenter.
He did not remember anything about his “second personality” and did not believe that two months had passed since his departure from Coventry.
After he was returned home with the assistance of his nephew, psychologist William James of Harvard University and Richard Hodgson of the Society for Psychical Research traveled to study him.
Under hypnosis, they found, he could be induced to assume the personality of either Bourne or Brown, and neither personality had any knowledge of the other.
The story of Ansel Bourne was “most likely” an inspiration for the name ‘Bourne’ in the movie and novel series The Bourne Identity.
In 1985, Jody Roberts, a News Tribune reporter living in Tacoma, Washington, also disappeared. Around the same time, a mysterious woman was found in a shopping center located in Colorado, who did not remember her name, nor how she ended up where she was found.
The stranger spent four months in the clinic. Since her loved ones could not be found, she was given the name Jane Dee. In the end, she was able to start a new life and even got married in 1989.
Jane’s husband was from Alaska, from a fishing village on the coast of Baranof Island. There they settled. During the marriage, the woman produced four children and founded a design company.
In 1997, one of Jody Roberts’ acquaintances accidentally met Jane Dee in Alaska and realized that in front of him was the missing journalist, only twelve years older. She was arranged to meet with relatives, and they all identified her, although Jody herself (or Jane) could not remember any of them.
After some time, she just as suddenly disappeared from her home in Alaska, despite the fact that her family remained there. And no one ever saw her again.
A victim of stress
On April 9, 2011, 33-year-old Amber Herwec left her home in Jackson, Michigan by car, leaving her four children behind. She never returned back. Her car was later found about 30 miles from her parents’ home in Georgia. The keys were in the ignition, and Amber’s driver’s license was in the glove compartment.
The woman had recently gone through a divorce, but she seemed to be in a normal state, and there was nothing to indicate that something was wrong with her.
A month later, an unidentified woman showed up at the Joliet, Illinois, police station, located 600 miles from where Hervec’s car was found. She said that she did not remember her name and what had happened to her before. Subsequently, individual fragments of memory returned to her. It was determined that this is the missing Amber Gervek.
The woman believed that her amnesia arose as a result of the attack. She vaguely remembered that she was driving in a car with a man and he was saying something to her. At the same time, Amber did not have any physical injuries, traces of violence, alcohol or drugs were not found in her blood.
Doctors eventually decided that the cause of amnesia, most likely, was still belated stress after a divorce.
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Jason Brandt, draws this conclusion about people who suddenly lose their memory:
“These are conduct disorders. Their brain itself is healthy, but its “programming” just got messed up… This is a kind of psychological escape. I don’t mean that this is a conscious decision, but very often it is done unconsciously. This is such a way for the psyche to escape from an intolerable situation”.
Brandt is sure that if a person receives the right treatment, then memory can be restored.