From Mayo Clinic website (

Amnesia caused by brain injury or damage is known as neurological or organic amnesia. Possible causes of neurological amnesia include:

  • Brain inflammation (Encephalitis) resulting from infection with a virus such as herpes simplex virus or as an autoimmune reaction to cancer somewhere else in the body (paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis)
  • Lack of adequate oxygen in the brain (for example, from heart attack, respiratory distress or carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • Long-term alcohol abuse leading to thiamin (vitamin B-1) deficiency (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)
  • Tumors in areas of the brain that control memory
  • Degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia
  • Seizures (Seizure Disorder)
  • Electroconvulsive therapy, a procedure in which electrical currents are passed through the brain, sometimes used to treat certain mental illnesses
  • Certain medications, such as benzodiazepines
  • Head injuries Brain Injury  Head Injury, such as those sustained in car accidents, can lead to confusion and problems remembering new information, especially in the early stages of recovery — but usually don’t cause severe amnesia.
  • Another rare type of amnesia, called psychogenic or dissociative amnesia, stems from emotional shock or trauma, such as being the victim of a violent crime. In this disorder, a person may lose personal memories and autobiographical information, usually only briefly.

For evaluations of the accuracy of amnesia portrayals in the movies, see Baxendale S. “Memories Aren’t Made of this:  Amnesia at the Movies.”  BMJ. spp4; 329: 1480-3.

The number of movies alleged to feature amnesia in some way is overwhelming, and many entries are inaccurate.  See, i.e.:

amnesia (815 titles)

As a result, this site includes only a limited sampling, organized under the following headings:

Retrograde Amnesia

Anterograde Amnesia

Lacunar Amnesia

Paychogenic Amnesia


Retrograde amnesia

Retrograde amnesia occurs when a person forgets part or all of his or her past.

Amnesia (2013)

A man who wakes up in a remote mental institution with no memory must fight to regain it before the resident psychiatrist takes over his mind. Events are based on documented violations of human rights, both in mental institutions and at the hands of human traffickers.

Total Recall (2012)

A man discovers he has been implanted with false memories, and doesn’t remember who he really is.

The Vow (2012)

A newlywed couple recovers from a car accident that puts the wife in a coma. Waking up with severe memory loss, the husband she doesn’t remember tries to re-win her heart.

Infantile Amnesia (Original titleInfantil Amnezi) (2011) Turkish

A man attempts to reconstruct his childhood.   After many years, he finds the house he was born in.

The Forgotten (TV series) Episode:Living Doe (2010)

A man wakes up from a coma with amnesia and seeks help from Alex and the team, who find themselves in a dangerous situation when they uncover evidence of his violent past.

Amnesia (2010)

You are a man does not know who and where he is. You are dizzy and confused, flashing images of trips, roads. You wonder if there is anybody looking for you …

My Amnesia Girl (2010)

A man wants to redeem himself with the girl he left on the day of their wedding, but she has amnesia.

Amnesia Global Transitoria (2009)

He has lost his memory. She has recovered hers.

Memory of Love (2009) Chinese

A woman, He Sizhu, and her lover, Chen Mo, are in a car accident. When she wakes up at the hospital where her husband is a surgeon, she has forgotten everything. He is a stranger.

Salaam-E-Ishq (2007) Indian

The story of six couples from different parts of the world: Ignorant about each other’s existence, they are brought together by destiny, fate and love.  Ashutosh is an editor at a television news channel and married to Tehzeeb, a field reporter at the same. Their world is upended when Tehzeeb has a tragic accident resulting in amnesia that completely robs her of her memories of their marriage. Tehzeeb decides to leave Ashutosh, as she has no recollection of him and cannot stand to see him suffer.

Ugly Betty (TV series) Episode: Family/Affair (2007)

Alexis gets selective retro-grade amnesia and forgets that she had a sex change or any of the events with her parents. Bradford uses it to his advantage.

Amnesia (2007) (V)

A thriller about a man who is the victim of total memory loss, and nothing is as it seems.

Samantha Who? (2007 TV series)

A woman suffers from amnesia and is forced to find out who she really is.

Amnesia: The James Brighton Enigma (2005)

An American is found naked and amnesiac in a vacant parking lot in Montreal in 1998. The only thing he’s sure of is that he’s gay.  A female criminology student tries to find out what happened to him.

Amnesia (2004) (TV)

An amnesiac might be a key figure in Detective Mackenzie Stone’s search for his own wife, who disappeared five years ago.

Paycheck (2003)

Michael Jennings is a reverse engineer.  He does is technical jobs for companies and when he is done, his memory is wiped out. A billionaire offers him a multi-year job promising eight figures. When the job is done and his memory erased, he learns he made over 90 million dollars, but he goes to claim it he discovers that prior to the erasure of his memory he waived his rights to the money.

The Bourne Identity (2002)

An Italian fishing boat crew working off the coast of Marseille, France finds an unconscious man adrift in the Mediterranean with two gunshot wounds in his back. The man awakens on board, and soon realizes he suffers from retrograde amnesia, having only one clue to his identity: the account number to a safe deposit box provided by a tiny laser projector surgically implanted in his hip.

Lust & Amnesia (2002)

A man and woman wake in bed in a mysterious flat. They don’t know where they are. They don’t know who they are. And they are naked and handcuffed together.

Time Lapse (2001) (V) (original title Amnésia Fatal – Brazil (DVD)

Drug-induced amnesia:  During a de-briefing, an agent is administered a drug which destroys brain cells and causes permanent memory loss within a few days of injection.  He appeals to his ex-wife to help him locate the antidote before it’s too late.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Story of an aspiring actress newly arrived in L.A. who befriends an amnesiac hiding in her aunt’s apartment.

The Majestic (2001)

A man drives off a bridge, and wakes without a memory in a small town where people believe him to be someone else.  He lives another man’s life until his memory is triggered, with its ensuing consequences.

Amnesia (2000)

On a cold night, a young woman huddles in the doorway of an apartment building, staring at the building across the street. As the building’s residents come and go, some offer assistance and/or comfort and try to find out why she’s there, she has amnesia.

Who Am I? (1998)

Chan plays a special operative who loses his memory following a fall from a helicopter.

Dark City (1998)

A man awakens in a hotel bathtub, suffering from amnesia. He receives a telephone call from a man who urges him to flee the hotel from those who are after him. During the telephone conversation, he discovers the corpse of a brutalized, ritualistically murdered woman, along with a bloody knife. He flees the scene. . .

Amnesia (1997)

A married pastor preaches piety on Sunday, while carrying on an affair with the local school teacher during the week. The lovers concoct a scheme to fake the pastor’s death so they can be together.  The plan goes awry when the pastor hits his head and awakens not knowing who he is, and wanders into the motel used for his secret trysts.  The lonely and desperate motel manager realizes the pastor has amnesia and makes him her prisoner and lover.  The pastor’s wife is suspected of foul play by an insurance investigator and forges an unwitting alliance with her husband’s lover in an effort to find her husband.


An animated fantasy about the missing daughter of Czar Nicholas II.  In this story she has amnesia.

The English Patient (1996)

Set during WWII. A critically burned man is being looked after by a French-Canadian nurse in an abandoned Italian monastery. The patient, initially suffering from amnesia, remembers his past bit by bit. It is slowly revealed that he is a Hungarian cartographer who was making a map of the Sahara Desert, and whose affair with a married woman ultimately brought about his present situation. As the patient remembers more, a Canadian intelligence operative and former thief, arrives at the monastery.

A Wind Named Amnesia (Original title Kaze no na wa amunejia) (1993) (V) Japanese

A wind has swept the Earth taking all the memories from everyone. No one knows who they are, how to speak, or how to use the tools of modern civilization.

With a Vengeance (Other titles: Undesirable Canada; Amnesia Spain) (1992) (TV)

Amnesiac nanny and her love-struck employer try to follow the clues leading into her past, little suspecting that a serial killer is already waiting at the end of the trail.

Regarding Henry (1991)

A New York City lawyer struggles to regain his memory and recover his speech and mobility after he survives a shooting.

Dead Again (1991)

A mute, amnesic woman of unknown origins resides in an abbey until the shrieks from her nightmares force her caretakers to seek outside help.  Eventually she discovers her identity and the source of her trauma through hypnosis.

Shadows of the Past (1991) aka “Perigosa Amnésia” – Portugal

After a mysterious car accident, a photo journalist wakes up in a hospital with amnesia. Haunted by flashbacks of the accident, she is determined to unravel the mystery. Who was in the car with her?  Who is following her now? After an attempt on her life a detective helps her solve a mystery that involves internationals arm smuggling.

Shattered (1991)

Dan Merrick comes out from a shattering car accident with amnesia. He finds that he is married to Judith who is trying to help him start his life again. He keeps getting flashbacks about events and places that he can’t remember.


A wealthy heiress hires a carpenter to remodel a closet on a yacht. She finds fault with everything, and when he demands payment, shoves him overboard. Later she falls overboard while searching for her wedding ring on deck, develops amnesia, is rescued by a garbage scow, and is taken to the local hospital, where, seeing her mental state and her mistreatment of the staff at the hospital, her husband denies knowing her. He returns to their yacht to embark on a spree of parties with younger women. After seeing her story on the local news, the carpenter, a widower living with four young sons, decides to seek his revenge and remedy his own domestic problems by taking advantage of the situation…


Does the refugee Anna who has turned up in Paris have the bearing, speech, and intimate knowledge of the imperial family of the real grand duchess? Or is she merely a recovering amnesiac with a striking resemblance, who has been cleverly groomed to stake a claim to 10 million pounds left by the Tsar in an English bank?

Spellbound (1945) Gregory Peck

A young doctor with amnesia assumes the directorship of a psychiatric hospital.  He is revealed to be using the identity of a murdered man.  The psychoanalyst love interest does not believe him to be a murderer, and with the aid of her former professor and Freudian analyst they solve the mystery by interpreting the young doctor’s dreams.

Crime Doctor (1943)

A man is thrown out of a speeding car. When he comes to in a hospital, he has amnesia. He is visited by a stranger who calls him Phil and demands to know what happened to a valise, then runs away when Phil buzzes for help…

Random Harvest (1942)

A WWI British officer who was gassed and became shell-shocked in the trenches is confined to an asylum as an unidentified inmate because he has lost his memory. When the war ends, the gatekeepers abandon their posts to join the celebration. Unsupervised, the man wanders into town, where a showgirl takes him under her wing.

Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

Sullivan wakes up in a rail yard with no memory of who he is or how he got there. In his confused state, he assaults the railroad worker who finds him, for which he is sentenced to six years in a labor camp. He eventually regains his memory, but not before learning the importance of laughter in the lives of his fellow prisoners.

I Love You Again (1940)

While on a cruise, stodgy, overly-frugal businessman Larry gets hit on the head with an oar. He wakes up and remembers that he is actually a suave conman named George Cary, however, he has lost all memory of the past nine years as Larry.  When he returns to New York he learns that Larry is married, and his wife is in the process of divorcing him.  He falls in love with her a second time…

Carrefour (1938)

Blend of amnesia, romance and deceit. A respected French diplomat is blackmailed by criminals, who insist that the diplomat, who’d once suffered a loss of memory, had been a crook in his previous “life”.

 Anterograde Amnesia

Anterograde Amnesia

Anterograde amnesia is a loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia. A person with anterograde amnesia is unable to form new permanent memories.

Holden (2012 short)

Holden is a young photographer with anterograde amnesia, who travels to Paris for a photo session with a successful French actor…

Ghajini (2008) Indian (Bollywood)

A businessman develops anterograde amnesia following a violent encounter in which his love interest is killed.  To discover those responsible and avenge her death he uses a system of photographs, notes and tattoos.  A remake of the film Ghajini(2005)

The Lookout(2007)

A man suffering anterograde amnesia from a car crash works at putting his life back together until he is brought into a bank robbery.

50 First Dates (2004)

Henry Roth is a man afraid of commitment up until he meets the beautiful Lucy. They hit it off and Henry think he’s finally found the girl of his dreams, until he discovers she forgets him the very next day.

Memento (2000)

The protagonist suffers anterograde amnesia from an attack that left his wife dead. Resolved to track down his wife’s killer, he ritually takes Polaroid pictures, writes, notes, and tattoos himself. The film is inspired by the true case of a man who developed profound anterograde amnesia after bilateral anterior temporal lobe resection (including parts of the hippocami) for an intractable seizure disorder.

Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999 TV movie)

History of Apple and Microsoft:  Woz: “People just thought that I was weird because I said weird things. I couldn’t tell you that I’d seen someone 10 minutes before. . . I had no way to know that this amnesia existed or that I had it during the 5 weeks. I couldn’t have told Steve that I had memory problems. . . It was real. I never got any memories from this period. I would never have gone 5 weeks with my dogs in a shelter, nor left a missing tooth be untreated for this period. ‘

Winter Sleepers  (1997)

A man suffers anterograde amnesia in an accident caused by a drunken driver.  The accident puts his daughter in a coma, and he becomes obsessed with finding the man responsible, despite his amnesia.

Clean Slate (1994)

A private detective loses his memory following an explosion.  He can’t remember anything before the accident, and afterwards he can only remember one day at a time.  To remind himself of crucial information, including whom he can trust, he dictates notes to himself on a mini recorder.

Lacunar amnesia

Lacunar amnesia is the loss of memory about one specific event.

“Dusk Maiden of Amnesia” (2012) (TV series)

A freshman at an old high school rumored to be haunted, stumbles upon the ghost of a young woman who had been left to die. The ghost cannot remember the events that led up to her death and the girl decides to help her in discovering the cause.

Amnesia (2006)

A woman suffers a car accident in which she receives a blow to the head doesn’t remember the events. Her mother-in-law dies in the accident, and her husband blames her for his mother’s death. The woman enters her subconscious in order to prove her innocence to the world and to herself.

Amnesia (2010)

A scarred grandson seeks help from his grandmother to help him with his memory loss by making him her ‘special tea’.

Nip/Tuck (TV series) Episode: Candy Richards (2008)

Julia’s been shot in the head, but plagued with amnesia she’s unable to point the finger at Eden.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

A man and a woman meet on a train. Although they do not realize it, they are former lovers: After a fight, the woman hired the firm Lacuna, Inc. to erase her memories of the relationship. Devastated, the man did the same. The man and woman come upon their Lacuna records shortly after re-encountering each other. They decide to start over.

What Lies Beneath (2000) Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford

A woman recovering from a bad accident of which she barely has any memory, experiences visions out of the corner of her eye, objects that fall or switch places on their own and other inexplicable events that seem to be triggering fragmentary recall.

Gothika (2003) Halle Berry

After a car crash, a criminal psychologist awakes to find that she’s a patient in the same mental institution that currently employs her. It seems she is accused of murdering her husband — but she has no memory of committing the crime.

Psychogenic amnesia

Psychogenic amnesia is memory loss caused by psychological stress.

Mister Buddwing (1966)

Waking up on a New York park bench, a man’s mind is a total blank. Eventually, a passing remark jogs his memory, and he recovers from the shock of an incident involving his wife and a pregnancy.

Mirage (1965)

Stillwell’s work is a method to neutralize radiation will allows radiation-free atomic bombs to be made. Amnesia is induced when he tries to burn the only existing copy of his work and a colleague falls to his death trying to grab it.

Shadow on the Wall (1950)

A child is the sole witness to a killing, but the shock causes her to suffer amnesia about the event.

Spellbound (1945)

Two traumatic deaths cause a man’s amnesia.


How Memory Works (2009)

Feature’s history’s most severe case of amnesia.  After surgery to address severe epilepsy, H. M. was left with profound anterograde amnesia and partial retrograde amnesia. He has no memory of anything that has happened since he underwent surgery, and cannot acquire new factual knowledge about the world around him. He is unable to retain any kind of new information for more than several minutes.

Unknown White Male (2005)

The true story of Doug Bruce who woke up on Coney Island with total amnesia. This documentary follows him as he rediscovers himself and the world around him.

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