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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Genuine Case of Generalized Amnesia

I almost forgot to bring you this one... okay, okay.

A 50-something man, fluent in three languages (English, German, and French) with a "professorial knowledge" of European cultural history, awoke dehydrated in Seattle with $600 in his sock and few memories of his past or identity.  He knew the names of several professors he said he had worked with in the 1980s -- as well as the troubling memory of a young wife whom he'd found dead in 1985 -- but little else.  And he wasn't too keen on knowing more, he said.

The story puzzled doctors, police, and experts worldwide for several weeks.  According to them, generalized amnesia is basically a movie ailment; it is possible, but the sufferers are often exaggerating for their own benefit, and thoroughly legitimate cases are extremely rare.  "Jon Doe"'s ("Jon" is fine with him) appears to be a genuine case.

An update to this story is that the man has been identified as Edward Lighthart, a professor who once taught English in China.  Online pictures verified his identity and the newspaper was trying to catch-up to him when I posted this entry.  Follow the Seattle Times Online for more developments on this story.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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