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Identity And Universals: A Conceptualist Approach to Logical, Metaphysical, and Epistemological Problems of Contemporary Identity Theory
Appendix C, Cast of Characters
by Carolyn Ray

Date: 11 Nov 98
Copyright: Carolyn Ray

Henri Baud: The earliest recorded victim of Korsakov's Syndrome. He remembered no one, but thought he might be acquainted with everyone. He acted only in imitation of others--he ate when they ate, was able to use tools if others were doing so--and seemed to be completely unaware of any bodily incentive to act on his own, though if asked, e.g., if he had eaten, he would say that he was very hungry, even if he had just finished a meal.

Jimmie G: Classified as a Korsakov's Syndrome sufferer, i.e., lacking short-term memory and thus unable to store any new long-term memories, and also suffering from retrograde amnesia. Jimmie's long term memories are restricted to those formed before the age of 19, although the onset of his anterograde amnesia occurred when he was approximately 40 years old. He remembers the experiences of that 19th year as though they are happening in the present, can only use concepts formed before that age (though enlisted in the Navy until 1965, he did not know in 1975 what a space satellite was). He cannot remember new acquaintances for more than a few minutes; everyone is a stranger to him. Oliver Sacks describes Jimmie's personality as cheerful, though he is aware of being "lost."

Madame I: Documented case from the early 1900s, a patient of neurologists G. Deny and P. Camus. She was described as having lost her body-image, though she responded normally to perceptual stimulation; as she described herself: "I am not longer aware of myself as I used to be. I can no longer feel my arms, my legs, my head, and my hair. I have to touch myself constantly in order to know how I am" ("Sur une forme d'hypocondrie aberrante due a la perte de la conscience du corps," Revue Neurologique 9 (1905), quoted in Rosenfield, p. 39).

Madame S: Victim of visio-spatial disorders resulting from a stroke that damaged the lower and back areas of the right cerebral hemisphere. Sacks describes her as having perfectly preserved intelligence and sense of humor, and able to talk insightfully about her disorder. Though she can understand it intellectually, she does not know directly what "left" means (the left side of the body and the left visual field being controlled and monitored by the right cerebral hemisphere). She cannot look left; she cannot even turn her head. She applies makeup to only the right side of her face; she eats the food on the right side of the plate and complains that her portions are too small. "Thus she requested, and was given, a rotating wheelchair. And now if she cannot find something which she knows should be there, she swivels to the right, through a circle, until it comes into view. She finds this signally successful if she cannot find her coffee or dessert....But if she is still hungry, or if she thinks on the matter, and realises that she may have perceived only half of the missing half, she will make a second rotation till the remaining quarter comes into view.... 'It's absurd,' she says. 'I feel like Zeno's arrow...'" (Sacks, Hat, pp. 77-78).

William Thompson: Korsakoff's Syndrome sufferer. Oliver Sacks describes Thompson's personality as effervescent, but clearly anxious and desperate. Thompson appears to run an unending race against discovery that he cannot remember who he or anyone else is.

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