Police trying to identify amnesiac

Aug. 24, 2011 at 1:14 AM
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LONDON, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Police said they were trying to identify a man who came to a hospital in England with what he said was a splitting headache and no memory of who he is.

A week after his appearance, the man's name and address are unknown, The Independent reported. No one matching his description has been reported missing.

The man, who appears to be in his late 50s to late 60s, told medical staff he found himself on the beach in Deal Aug. 17 with no memory of how he got there. When he was asked his name, he said "Frank" appeared to mean something to him and that was what he wanted to be called.

He was carrying a cane, a pack of cigarettes and a pair of sunglasses and was appropriately dressed for walking on the beach in jeans, a T-shirt, sweatshirt, walking coat and boots.

In a similar case in 2005, a young man who turned up on a South Coast beach was eventually identified as Andreas Grassl, a German citizen. Grassl was nicknamed "Piano Man" because, for several months, he would play the piano but would not speak, and some have suggested he faked his amnesia.

Dr. Eli Jaldow, a specialist in memory disorders at St. Thomas Hospital in London, told the Independent amnesia can be a real response to a traumatic event. He said it is more common in men than women.

"There's a switch in certain susceptible individuals," he said. "When they're faced with terrible things they can't cope with, there's a self-protective mechanism that kicks in and wipes out all those memories so they don't remember what they've been exposed to."

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