Entries in Amnesia (3)


'Amnesia Mom' Says Ambien May Be to Blame

Matthew Hatfield(MIAMI) -- The Colorado mom who says she doesn't remember abandoning her two young sons in a van and walking for 12 miles has reported another case of amnesia to police in which she says she unknowingly sold treasured family heirlooms to a local pawn shop.

The statement by Sarah Hatfield comes as she pled not guilty in court Thursday on two charges of misdemeanor child abuse related to the Jan. 28 incident in which she left her two young sons, ages 2 and 4, at a Thornton, Colo., gas station.

Hatfield, 26, claims her last memory from that day is sitting in her van with her sons at the gas station. Nearly 12 hours later, around midnight, she arrived outside the National Jewish Hospital in Denver, appearing disoriented as she asked a security guard to use a phone to call home, according to police.

Police found the two boys, as well as Hatfield's wallet, cell phone and keys in her abandoned van in the gas station parking lot after responding to a call. They say her husband, Matthew, also reported a handgun missing from the family's home.

The couple reported to police this week that a local pawn shop notified them that a loan was due related to two necklaces and a ring that the shop says Sarah Hatfield pawned two weeks before the van incident. The store has surveillance video showing Hatfield in the store on Jan. 10 but her husband says she has no memory of being there.

"When Sarah walked into the pawn shop [to question the loan] she said that she had no recollection of ever being in there before and she believed it was the first time she'd been in there," Matthew Hatfield told ABC News.

"They [the pawn shop] wouldn't tell us any information so we called the police and the shop released the information and the video to the police," he said. "It certainly appeared to be her on the surveillance video."

Matthew Hatfield says the incident builds his wife's case that she did not knowingly abandon the couple's children and rules out the idea floated by doctors after the Jan. 28 incident that a condition known as "transient global amnesia" could be the cause of his wife's memory loss.

"It does speak to the fact that her inability to recall events has happened more than once," he said. "We're still waiting for follow up with neurologists. She's also going to be undergoing an in-depth psychological evaluation."

The psychological evaluation, Matthew Hatfield said, comes at the request of Child Protection Services which has ordered his wife to not be left alone unsupervised with the couple's children.

Hatfield says the family is now looking more closely at withdrawal from the insomnia medication, Ambien, as a possible cause for his wife's memory loss. The otherwise healthy Hatfield has a history of insomnia and debilitating migraines, the latter of which she's being treated for.

"Sarah had been taking Ambien for about two months and she stopped taking it in mid-January when her prescription ran out," Matthew Hatfield said. "The effect of Ambien withdrawal can also describe what she experienced and, based on our research, can also last for months."

"Ambien is a drug you're supposed to step down from and she didn't do that," he said. "If you step off it properly you're supposed to minimize those withdrawal side effects but she didn't so we believe that may be a cause because the timeline fits and the symptoms fit as well."

Hatfield's trial date is set for June 14. She could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Thornton, Colo., police are not commenting on the case, saying it is still an active investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Accused Ponzi Schemer Lying About Having Amnesia, Say Prosecutors

BananaStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Federal prosecutors say R. Allen Stanford, the financier accused of defrauding investors of $7 billion, is mentally competent to stand trial and is faking amnesia, according to court documents.

A competency hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in a Texas court.

Stanford, 61, pleaded not guilty to all charges and later claimed he developed amnesia after a fellow inmate assaulted him in 2009. His defense attorney said in separate documents that the inmate smashed Stanford's face into a pole and threw him onto the concrete floor.

But in their motion to have Stanford declared competent, U.S. attorneys said doctors at the federal prison in Butner, N.C., determined that Stanford was "not credible" when he said he was "completely amnestic to his life prior to the assault." Stanford said he could not remember past romances, vacations with his children or any details about his business operations.

Additional psychological testing, the motion says, prove he was lying and faking cognitive impairments. On some of the tests, he even scored lower than people with brain injuries and dementia.

Defense experts, according to prosecutors, blamed Stanford's poor performance on depression and fatigue. In a separate motion, Stanford's attorney, Ali Fazel, said his client "suffered a traumatic brain injury" in the assault and the medications given to him by prison medical staff, which included anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants, made his condition worse.

Stanford claims to have retrograde amnesia, the loss of memory of events that happened before an injury. Memories from a few days before to even a few years before could be lost with retrograde amnesia.

Cases in which decades of memories are lost are extremely rare, and in most cases, if memory loss is that severe, a person has likely suffered a very serious brain injury.

"In this situation, generally, brain damage is so severe that this person would not be walking, talking, conversing or reasoning," said David Loewenstein, a neuropsychologist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. Loewenstein did not evaluate Stanford and was referring to amnesia in general.

While he couldn't comment on whether Stanford is lying about his memory loss, Loewenstein said skilled neuropsychologists can tell the difference between someone truly experiencing amnesia and someone who is faking it.

There are numerous tests available that psychologists and psychiatrists use that assess, among other things, a person's memory, personality and language.

Prosecutors said in addition to psychological tests that prove Stanford is faking amnesia, they also have emails, phone calls and other evidence that they say show he does remember events prior to the prison assault.

If a judge rules Stanford is mentally fit for trial, his trial will begin Jan. 23.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sex So Good It Blows the Mind?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For one woman, sex was mind-blowing and, literally, totally forgettable, all at the same time.

A case study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that a 54-year old woman experienced memory loss after having sex with her husband. The patient came into the Georgetown University Hospital emergency department, complaining she could not recall anything 24 hours before climaxing.

The authors of the case report, Drs. Kevin Maloy and Jonathan Davis of Georgetown, diagnosed the woman with transient global amnesia, a rare and sudden episode of memory loss. According to experts, the episodes are temporary and unlikely to happen again.

"Transient global amnesia is caused by a scrambling of the memory circuits in the brain, often brought on by physical or emotional triggers,” said Dr. Carol Lippa, a professor of neurology at Drexel University Medical School. “In post-coital cases, transient global amnesia may be related to changes in blood flow in the vessels that feed the brain’s memory formation areas -- sort of a remote consequence of the altered blood flow that occurs during sex.”

Experts say it’s unclear what exactly causes TGA, but it has been found to occur after strenuous physical activity, severe pain or psychological distress.

About three to five out of 100,000 people experience the condition each year, said the study. Men and women over 50 years old are most likely to experience the peculiar memory loss.

Lippa noted that sex can lead to other adverse effects on a person’s health, including heart attacks and even sudden cardiac death, especially in people who have cardiovascular risk factors.

But before knocking sex, Lippa also mentioned the physical benefits of sexual intercourse.

“Sex may boost immunity, relieve stress, improve sleep, create bonding between couples and it reduces the risk of some types of cancer,” said Lippa. “The good news is that these cases usually resolve in less than a day, and the majority of cases never recur.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio