BreakPoint: What love really looks like - the man with no memory

True love dignifies the other. / Getty Images/kieferpix


What would it be like to live only -- and exclusively -- in the present?

Clive Wearing, a former musician for the BBC, is now the most famous amnesia patient in the world. In 1985, Clive suffered a severe fever that gave him both anterograde and retrograde amnesia. That means he can neither form new memories, nor recall most of his previous life. Instead, he lives his life 30 seconds at a time.

Clive's struggle has been well chronicled in two documentaries, the first produced in 1986 and the second in 2005. Clive retains some knowledge -- he can play piano expertly, for example, and remembers that he is married -- he doesn't remember the wedding, his children or his wife's name. The dominant experience of Clive's life, repeated hundreds of times a day, is of waking up from a coma for the very first time, without knowledge of who or where he is.

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