Amnesia Victim Still Doesn't Remember Past

Amnesia victim Jeff Ingram talks about his memory loss at a news conference in Lacey, Wash. Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006. AP

He's flipped through the photographs, listened to the stories, read through all the letters. He's even trolled through his computer files looking for clues.

But more than a month after he woke up with no memory on the streets of Denver, Jeff Ingram still has no idea who he is.

"Family vacations, high school graduation, prom night ... your first dance, your first kiss. That's all lost," Ingram said Wednesday.

"It's very hard to put into words. ... It's probably the most frustrating thing that a person can ever go through, is to lose their identity. Because your past is what makes you who you are today — good or bad."

Ingram made headlines when he turned up in Denver on Sept. 10.

He had set off on a trip home to Canada on Sept. 6 and showed up in Denver four days later without a single memory of his life, reports Jeff Dubois of CBS affiliate KIRO.

He says he awoke, alone and terrified, with no idea who or where he was. He had no wallet or ID — just $8 cash, the clothes on his back, a few pieces of his jewelry and a driving headache.

"I had no idea where I was. I didn't recognize no buildings. No streets. No nothing," Ingram said Wednesday. "I couldn't remember my name. So, I thought, 'OK maybe I have a wallet.' There's no I.D. on me at all."

Ingram says he began wandering the streets, pleading for help from strangers.

Ingram, 40, returned home to Olympia about a week ago. He was recognized on TV news programs, pleading for help: "If anybody recognizes me, knows who I am, please let somebody know."

The 40-year-old former mill worker's planned wedding to fiancée Penny Hansen is on hold for now. But the couple sat hand-in-hand Wednesday, thanking the police, doctors, family and friends who helped bring Ingram home to Olympia.

"Jeff and I are here to tell you that faith, love and hope are alive and well through this story," said Hansen, a state government worker.

Doctors have said Ingram's memory loss came from a disorder called dissociative fugue, a rare type of amnesia that can be triggered by stress.

Ingram remembers how to read and write, but Hansen has had to re-teach him other things, like how to cook, reports Dubois.

Even more bizarre may be the fact that it's the second time Ingram has lost his identity.

Relatives say that in 1995, Ingram vanished for about nine months. He eventually surfaced in Seattle, but had no recollection of family, friends, or his previous life.

Today, even that traumatic episode has disappeared from his memory.

"For me, I go through my intuition because I don't have any memories coming back," Ingram said. "But me being here, I know I'm in the right place."

"Here is home. Home is with her," he said of Hansen.

Ingram and Hansen are pleading for help finding Ingram's vanished car, a blue-to-green Dodge Neon with Alberta license plates.

They also would welcome assistance with medical expenses and legal costs, as Ingram — a Canadian — seeks to stay in the U.S. for medical help.

The couple said few doctors have been able to offer assistance with Ingram's apparent disorder, but he remains hopeful that the jumbled pieces of his memory will fall into place someday.

"I just keep trying everything, hoping something will click and just open it up," he said.
  • Sean Alfano

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