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Forget it! Memory Loss and the Piano Man

For use with Talking Point worksheets

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Forget it! Memory Loss and the Piano Man

Postby TalkingPoint » Mon Jun 13, 2005 9:51 am

Forget it! Memory Loss and the Piano Man

Instructions: Read the text below to find the answers to the questions on your worksheet.

What is Memory Loss?

The official name for memory loss is "amnesia", although this is not a specific term. There are several different kinds of amnesia.

Anterograde Amnesia is the term applied to the condition whereby people cannot remember anything very new or recent. These people have to be cared for professionally because they might be a danger to themselves or others. They might, for example, start cooking something and then forget all about it, causing a fire. Sometimes these people are "stuck" at a certain age: they might think they are still 26 years old, for example, and be confused or upset if they see themselves in a mirror and discover that there is the face of a 60-year-old staring back at them.

Retrograde Amnesia is the term used to describe the inability to remember anything before the amnesia started. For example, after a severe blow to the head a person may be unable to remember anything about their life up to that moment. So they may not recognise close family members etc. They can, however, often remember how to drive, write, etc., and they may recognise famous faces and be able to recall famous incidents from the news such as assassinations or natural disasters.

Another type of amnesia is Post-Traumatic Amnesia. This is when someone has suffered a traumatic event in their lives such as the death of someone very close to them or has witnessed a terrible incident. In such cases the person may be able to remember everything perfectly normally except for the few days surrounding the incident itself.

These are only basic outlines of some types of amnesia. There are other "categories" and distinctions within those categories. For example, amnesia caused by damage to specific areas of the brain (often due to excess alcohol consumption) is called Korsakoff's syndrome.

Who is the Piano Man?

7th April 2005 saw the start of strange mystery in the English town of Sheerness in Kent: a young man was found wandering the streets in soaking wet clothes and completely unable to identify himself.

The man, who is about six feet tall with fair hair, appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s but no one could be sure of anything apart from that because he seemed to have lost the power of speech. When he was found he was dressed formally but even his suit provided no clue as to who he might be because, mysteriously, all the labels had been cut from his clothing.

After social workers had spent some time trying to communicate with the man, and failing, it was suggested that he should be given some paper and a pencil, to see if he could communicate by writing. Amazingly enough, although he wrote nothing, the visibly frightened stranger drew a grand piano. Carers immediately took him to a piano in the chapel of the building, the Medway Maritime hospital in Kent. The man stunned his audience by playing, some say brilliantly, for four hours non-stop.

This strange behaviour tied in with the one clue to his identity which he could provide: the sheet music he was clutching when he was found.

Police began contacting orchestras all over Europe in an attempt to find out where the man came from. In addition to that, translators were brought in to try to communicate with the young man in a variety of languages, but to no avail.

If the young man does not spontaneously recover his memory and nobody comes forward to "claim" him he may have to stay in care for the rest of his life.

Quick Quiz
Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. Police began contacting orchestras all over __________ in an attempt to find out where the man came from.

2. __________ Amnesia is the term used to describe the inability to remember anything before the amnesia started.

3. The __________ clue to the Piano Man’s identity was the sheet music he was clutching when he was found.

4. __________ were brought in to try to communicate with the young man in a variety of languages.

5. When given a pencil and paper the visibly frightened stranger drew a __________ piano.

6. Sufferers of Retrograde Amnesia may not recognise close __________ members etc.
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