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Prisoner of Consciousness: A state of just awakening following Herpes Simplex Encephalitis
Wilson, B.A. & Wearing, D.
In R. Campbell & M. Conway (Eds.), Broken Memories: Neuropsychological Case Studies. Oxford: Blackwell, 15-30
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We report the case of Clive Wearing, a gifted musician and scholar who, at the height of his career, became infected by herpes simplex encephalitis in 1985. His amnesia is extremely severe in comparison with other reported cases, particularly in regard to both his retrograde amnesia, which extends back for virtually the whole of his life, and his episodic memory. As well as his episodic deficits, Clive has marked semantic memory impairments for both visual and verbal material. He believes he has just woken up and this state of awakening has persisted for over eight years. His musical ability appears to be relatively unaffected by his amnesia. We describe the onset of his illness and the nature of his memory dysfunctioning. We consider other musicians who have suffered brain damage, and we compare Clive to some of the well known amnesic patients in the literature.