So I'm writing a novel, and I was wondering if there was a medication or some medical something where someone takes this medication, and after it wears off, they remember nothing of what they or others did? It doesn't have to be complete amnesia, but maybe some memory impairment that makes the memories they do have from that time unreliable. They also need to be able to function completely normally while on it, with minimal (more than vomiting or other short-term) side effects while on it or after.

If this doesn't exist, what similar symptoms of real drugs are there, so I can take some artistic liberties.

  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris So, if I want to ask how realistic it is to add a person who lacks any emotion (even "painful" feelings are not painful and food is not more or less tasty, yet it is different) do I post it on worldbuilding? $\endgroup$
    – rus9384
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ @rus9384 I don't get the question. But, your answer is most likely available on the world building faq. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris This question asks about reality despite mentioning the asker is gonna use the information in novel. I am not sure the questions about reality do not go here. And I meant if there is any person who does not feel disgust/pleasure/attraction/etc. yet has all senses (can differentiate between colors, sounds, smells, etc.). $\endgroup$
    – rus9384
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 19:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @rus9384 This type of question is best answered with alternatives that solve the OP's worldbuilding problem rather than address aspects of psychology. If there were a straightforward "yes" answer maybe it would apply here. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @rus9384 yup. I'll probably see it eventually and give you a treatise from personal experience. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 1:26

2 Answers 2


Here's a fascinatingly mundane option: ordinary alcohol.

We're all probably at least vaguely familiar with the idea of someone getting blackout drunk and not remembering what they did the night before. Just on its own, this fits okay: there are certainly people who think they're perfectly capable while being inebriated, and in isolated incidents their memory and general mental function are usually normal afterwards.

But here's the interesting part: most symptoms of alcohol are more or less controlled by the raw blood alcohol content. That is, the more alcohol, the more impairment. But memory impairment is controlled by sudden changes in BAC. The faster the alcohol is introduced, the more memory impairment. It's possible for someone who drinks at a normal pace all night to end up being and acting way more intoxicated than someone who binge drinks a lesser amount all at once, but the second person to have similar or even greater risk of memory loss.

So a large amount of alcohol added at a moderate speed creates a risk for memory loss. And a moderate amount added quickly creates a similar risk. This suggests (and I don't know if this is actually true, but it's good enough for general audiences) that a small amount of alcohol can cause memory loss if it's introduced extremely quickly, without actually leading to much impairment. Functioning might not be completely normal, but it's probably close enough, and physical symptoms should be minimal. And when it wears off, their memory is fine except for that one period.

For a delivery mechanism, I'd suggest intravenous injection, preferably by disguising it as some mundane injection like a vaccine.

  • $\begingroup$ This is a really cool answer! Do you have a citation for the memory impairment being a function of BAC change rate rather than total BAC? $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 5:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Dubukay Unfortunately not as such. The linked article says it does, but its link was dead. I can try digging up a working copy when I get a chance. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 8:26

Is there medication that has no effect while taking it, but causes amnesia after?


Researchers are currently experimenting with drugs which induce amnesia in order to improve understanding of human memory

Apparently not.

So I'm writing a novel

Which means you don't need real drugs. Hand wave a synthesis of propranolol and benzodiazepines and give it a medical sounding name.


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