why of this question

Feeling really detached from my past lately, as if I never truly experienced it and it was not part of me. Just destroyed every single picture of me cause when I look at them I see a stranger. I also started to think that every person I lost contact with during my life feels the same about me, I'm not part of their past and its as if I never was.

the concept of the question

This made hypothesize about a world where people do not have memories in one way or another, so I came up with this though of humans who change personality completely every single year. You become a new person on the new years eve, quite literally. Memories are lost, all of them except skills. Language and various talents or work related and culture memories remain.


You saw a movie last year with a girl you really liked, now you only remember the movie but not the people you saw it with.

Or you remember what you learnt in school but not your teachers and not your school mates.

the complication

I'm thinking that in this scenarios families would be ridiculous and might not even be able to survive.

the question

How do families need to change and adapt to this scenario in order to survive?

Given this behaviour of forgetting personalities and people is not evolved but started out of nowhere right now.

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    $\begingroup$ "Feeling really detached from my past lately, as if I never truly experienced it and it was not part of me." Might I suggest a therapist? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ There are one or movies that explore this idea. For example I can recommend Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ Another movie: Growing up, Evan Treborn and his friends, Lenny and siblings Kayleigh and Tommy Miller, suffered many severe psychological traumas that frequently caused Evan to black out. [...] - The Butterfly Effect (2004) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ You are eloquent in your melancholy, Hoi hoe. I have answered your question below. But destroying yourself by proxy is not good and you know it. Ordinary primary care MDs can help with these issues and they are not that $$. Or if they are, vigorous exercise can move the mind to a different and hopefully better place. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ We have this IRL. It's called Alzheimer's disease or dementia. One only needs to look at the tragic effects it has when only some people have the condition to realize the negative consequences on a global scale. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


Assigned Family function:

Your society would need some serious help. You could design a society to compensate for this, but if it just happened, I think society would fall apart. So maybe this is a disease, or a curse, and people saw it affect a small area first so they could compensate.

  • Everyone wakes up with a tag on, explaining what just happened, where they work, and who their family is. "These are your kids, here is your job, show up on Tuesday after a long weekend introducing yourself to your husband. FYI you're pregnant."
  • Given the short period of everyone's memory, I'm guessing most people will be so stunned they'll cruise along with their assigned tasks and not question it too much. This could be an elaborate plot by the government to impose control on society.
  • People are capable of strong loyalties to artificial constructs based on random criteria (teams, nations, companies) so it's not improbable that people given no anchors will cling to this perceived belonging. You never met your parents before today, but life is scary and you'll hold on like a starving baby bird.
  • As the end of the year approaches, people will be used to their lives and fearful of "death," so this is where society could really have problems. People indulge in wild behavior as they face dissolution. Others carefully arrange things so the next personalities have a smooth transition.
  • What is your motivation to build for the future? How do people handle a super-short life? This is the stuff of storytelling.
  • $\begingroup$ Nice. Some of your last-but-one paragraph is explored in an episode from one of the books in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. They all go crazy and even commit suicide or try to escape the cursed town. But they wake up the next day where they were. The problem is that their clothes and possessions aren't renewed (unlike in the movie Groundhog Day) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ P.S. It is described here (spoilers) wot.fandom.com/wiki/Hinderstap $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ Your concept of the new year meaning "death" actually happens every night. We go to sleep one person and our consciousness is extinguished. Who is to say that it is the same consciousness that wakes up the next day but in the old body and with the same memories? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ In fact, that is why in some cultures sleep is considered a sort of death. "When I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep." However, our consciousness is not really absent during sleep, just subdued and altered. Like the sleep mode in a computer, which is of course why it is called as such. We have dreams and all kinds of other neural activity; there is always a low level of awareness (which is why when we hear a noise, we wake up). And, of course, we presume that we will always have the same personality upon awaking, which is not the case in this hypothetical. $\endgroup$
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 19:53

Your people are birds.

While there are fledglings in the nest, the male and female are devoted to each other and to the young. The young trust the adults and follow them around, learning as they grow.

When summer is over, the young fly off, and they forget. The male and female part ways.

Spring, and mating season. A female sees a handsome young male singing his song. He warrants a second look but something about him is off-putting, and she moves on. She does not consciously remember, but that was her son.

Another older male with good shiny feathers and a lilt in his song. He looks like he would be a good one, and she comes closer. She does not consciously remember, but he was her mate last year too. And the year before that.