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Clive Wearing (born 1938) is a British citizen suffering from an acute and long lasting case of anterograde amnesia, the inability to form new memories.
On March 29, 1985, Wearing, then an acknowledged expert in early music and at the height of his career with BBC Radio 3, fell ill with a herpes simplex virus. Normally causing only cold sores, in rare cases it can attack the spinal cord or brain. In Wearing's case the affected area was the hippocampus, which has a major role in handling memory. Other affected areas are the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe, of which the latter also controls emotions.
Wearing developed a profound case of amnesia as a result of his illness. Completely unable to encode new memories, he spends every day "waking up" every few minutes. He remembers little of his life before 1985: he knows, for example, that he has children from an earlier marriage but cannot remember their names. His love for his second wife Deborah, whom he married the year prior to his illness, is undiminished. He greets her joyously every time they meet, believing he has not seen her in years, even though she may have just left the room to get a cup of tea.
Despite having retrograde as well as anterograde amnesia, and thus only a moment-to-moment consciousness, Wearing still recalls how to play the piano or to conduct a *choir- despite not recalling receiving a musical education. This is due to the fact that his cerebellum, which is involved in procedural memory, did not incur any damage. Nonetheless, as soon as the music stops, Wearing forgets that he played and starts shaking. These jerkings are the physical sign of his inability to control his emotions, stemming from the damage to his inferior frontal lobe. His brain is still trying to fire information to places which ceased to exist.
In an attempt to comprehend his situation, shortly following his illness Wearing began keeping a diary. Page after page is filled with entries similar to the following:
8:31 AM: Now I am really, completely awake.
9:06 AM: Now I am perfectly, overwhelmingly awake.
9:34 AM: Now I am superlatively, actually awake.
Earlier entries are usually crossed out, since only a few minutes after he writes them he forgets that he did, and dismisses them as being untrue.
His wife Deborah has written a book about her husband's case entitled Forever Today.
His updated story was (re-)told in the 2005 ITV documentary The Man with the 7 Second Memory.
He also appears in the 2006 documentary series Time]], where his case is used to illustrate the effect of losing one's perception of time.
See also[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Watch The Documentary - a March 2006 ObscuredTV documentary
- Article in The Observer magazine on Clive Wearing, January 2005
- 60 Minutes (Australia) interview with Clive and Dorothy Wearing, July 2005
- CBC - on the ITV documentary The Man with the 7 Second Memory
- The man who keeps falling in love with his wife - The Daily Telegraph December 2005
- imdb for The Man with the 7 Second Memory
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