Page 18: Is Joe Faking his Memory Loss?

“Hello?” Christa asked, hoping that she would hear Dr. Spitzack’s voice on the other end of the telephone.

“Mrs. Aden, this is Dr. Spitzack.  I’m returning your call.”

“Thank you,” Christa said with a sense of relief. “Dr. Spitzack,” Christa continued, “I’m a little concerned about the memory loss that Joe is having.  I understand that short-term memory loss is common with ECT, but it seems that Joe’s memory loss is more substantial.  Every day I go to visit him, he still doesn’t remember me or any of our family.  I bring photos, and he doesn’t remember anything.  Then today, one of the nurses told me that he didn’t even remember how to go to the bathroom or how to eat his food.”

Dr. Spitzack was silent for a moment.  “Mrs. Aden, I’ve observed this behavior in Joe as well, and I have every reason to believe that Joe has what we call a conversion disorder.”

“Conversion disorder?” Christa asked. “Can you explain?”

“Well, that’s just it.  There really is no explanation for a conversion disorder.  It typically happens as a result of a traumatic event in someone’s life.  For example, some people might experience pain in their leg or arm, even though there is no medical reason for the pain.  The anxiety that they are experiencing as a result of that traumatic event is converted into a ‘fake’ physical condition.”

“In Joe’s case,” the doctor continued, “the traumatic event of his sister’s death has resulted in a conversion disorder, but instead of experiencing a pain in his leg,  Joe seems to have lost his autobiographical memory.”

Christa needed clarification.  “What do you mean by autobiographical memory?”  
“One’s autobiographical memory is made up of all the events in one’s life that makes them who they are–personal experiences, people, events, general knowledge and facts about the world in which they live.  That’s why Joe doesn’t seem to know what things are or how to do something.  All the things that have made up his life for the past 40 years are essentially gone from his memory.”

“And never to return?” Christa asked fearfully.

“It’s still there, Joe is just suppressing it right now–like the ‘fake’ pain in the leg,” Dr. Spitzack tried to explain.

Puzzled, Christa asked, “So he’s faking his memory loss?”

“Since we can’t find evidence of any serious or significant brain problems, and there is no explanation for his memory loss…yes.”

Fact:  According to Joe & his family, the doctor thought he was “faking” his memory loss and he was termed as having a “conversion disorder” and was told that he had lost his “autobiographical memory” as a result of the conversion disorder. 

One Response to Page 18: Is Joe Faking his Memory Loss?

  1. Millions of people around the world are having memory loss for family members who are experiencing this illness it's have been nice to this article.Toronto memory clinic

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