The Current

Remembering nothing from your past, living with SDAM

Susie McKinnon simply cannot remember. She's fine with facts and figures ... but her wedding day? Special moments? None of that lingers for her. Susie shares what it is like living with the rare condition called Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory.
"I'm familiar with the emotion of joy but I can't put myself back there to experience it" says Susie McKinnon when asked to recall her wedding day (seen here). (Susie Mackinnon)
Susie McKinnon and family at their wedding party. Thirty-four years ago Susie McKinnon married Eric Green but her rare condition means she can't recall past experiences including her wedding day. Her husband fills in the blanks.

Susie McKinnon always knew that, when it came to the way we remember the experiences in our lives, she was ... different. But it was hard to say exactly how.

It was a visit to Toronto's Baycrest Health Sciences Centre eight years ago, that finally helped unlock the mystery. Researchers there studied Susie, and two other patients with similar symptoms, and ultimately discovered what they believe is a new condition. 

"People's first reactions are, 'well sure, your memory's bad, I don't remember everything about when I was young either'. I understand that's true, but this really is different.- Susie McKinnon

Susie McKinnon has been diagnosed with SDAM and she joined us to give us some insight into what it's like to live with this syndrome. Her husband Eric Green, Susie's fact checker, also joined us. They were in Tacoma, Washington.

Brian Levine is a neuropsychologist at Baycrest Health Sciences Centre. He conducted the research on Susie McKinnon and two other people and he co-wrote the paper identifying Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory syndrome.  Brian Levine was in Toronto. 

Have thoughts you want to share with us on memory? We love to hear from you.

Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC. Find us on Facebook or email us through our website.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry.