X sees hallucinations of a person A who he does not recognize, the hallucinations are constant (A follows X around all day)

Simultaneously, X has bursts of memory loss, where he cannot remember up to four hours from a day at random points in the day.

During this period of memory loss, while X seems to have no recollection of the forgotten events, A (hallucination, i.e. the subconscious of X) seems to remember everything.

Is there any real world condition which may be a plausible cause for such symptoms that doesn't involve blunt force trauma to the back of the head or drugs?

Feel free to expose X to whatever external conditions it takes to achieve these symptoms (the more plausible, the better)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You are asking questions about a story set in a world instead of about building a world. For more information, see Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened?. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Ash I think this is good. Rumble knows how s/he wants the character to be but needs help explaining how this could plausibly come about. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Will But "story-based" close reason is exactly for situations where someone already has a world built and just want explanations on one character in this world. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Molot: relevant text: "Checking whether a specific element of a back story that you have already written is possible or likely is probably on topic" $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Oct 31, 2017 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot, I agree with Will. The OP asks if something that they already envisioned is possible within the constraints of real-world medical conditions. Can you list specific points why this was put on hold as story-based? The provided links were not helpful. The question does not meet the criteria for closing outlined there. $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Oct 31, 2017 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


Temporal lobe epilepsy fits the bill perfectly.

Instead of the seizures we typically think of where something moves, or maybe the whole person convulses, partial seizures confined to the temporal lobe can manifest with visual or auditory or olfactory hallucinations or even more bizarre experiences. I met a man who suddenly smelled burning wires, and so of course checked his whole house for a fire, found nothing, and the smell abruptly vanished. The second time it happened he googled it and turned up "temporal lobe seizures" and so got an MRI, which found his brain tumor. These people are not insane, not stupid and in between seizures are completely normal. They recognize the experiences they have during seizures as things that may not be real.

Oliver Sacks wrote several accounts of persons with temporal lobe epilepsy.
from The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat

One night, in January 1979, she dreamed vividly, nostalgically, of her childhood in Ireland, and especially of the songs they danced to and sang. When she woke up, the music was still going, very loud and clear. "I must still be dreaming", she thought, but this was not so. She got up, roused and puzzled. It was the middle of the night. Someone, she assumed, must have left a radio playing. But why was she the only person to be disturbed by it? She checked every radio she could find - they were all turned off. Then she had another idea: she had heard that dental fillings could sometimes act like a crystal radio, picking up stray broadcasts with unusual intensity. "That's it", she thought. "One of my fillings is playing up. It won't last long. I'll get it fixed in the morning." She complained to the night nurse, who said her fillings looked fine. At this point another notion occurred to Mrs. O'c.: "What sort of radio-station", she reasoned to herself, "would play Irish songs, deafeningly, in the middle of the night? Songs, just songs, without introduction or comment? And only songs that I know. What radio station would play my songs, and nothing else?" At this point she asked herself: "Is the radio in my head?"

From Wikipedia article linked above.

Simple partial seizures (SPS) involve small areas of the temporal lobe such as the amygdala and hippocampus. The term "simple" means that the level of consciousness of the patient is not altered during the seizure. In temporal lobe epilepsy, a simple partial seizure usually causes abnormal sensations only.

These may be:

  • amnestic sensations such as déjà vu (a feeling of familiarity), jamais vu (a feeling of unfamiliarity) amnesia; or a single memory or set of memories.
  • A sudden sense of unprovoked fear and anxiety
  • Nausea Auditory, visual, olfactory, gustatory, or tactile hallucinations.
  • Visual distortions such as macropsia and micropsia
  • Dissociation or derealisation
  • Synesthesia (stimulation of one sense experienced in a second sense) may transpire.
  • Dysphoric or euphoric feelings, fear, anger, and other emotions may also > occur. Often, the patient cannot describe the sensations.
  • [6] Olfactory hallucinations often seem indescribable to patients beyond "pleasant" or "unpleasant".[7]

There are accounts of rapture: amazingly overwhelming experiences of the divine. Accounts of things so terrifying there are not words for them.

Also, seizures can definitely cause amnesia, either for events happening during the seizure, or before or just after. Memory loss with a seizure can be inconsistent, and its occurence might depend on other things going on or the severity of the seizure.

I hope this is for a TV show. I picture everything moving slightly slower when the hallucination shows up. A clip of music - maybe Led Zeppelin plays over and over, a little too slow. You can see the character smells something horrible. Then the visual hallucination comes into view.


This sounds like an extreme form of PTSD

The memory loss is a bit of stretch however in certain traumatic events the human mind tends to shut down and forget as means of retaining sanity, repression.

As with PTSD where the mind represses events, there is a survival aspect that remembers such events in order to avoid repeating the event. When certain stimuli are triggered recollection of the event can occur in order to trigger a survival reaction to avoid repeating the event. It could be that the event itself was so traumatic that even the recollection of it retriggers repression.


A soldier and his unit on the field comes across a young girl in a white dress in the street and offers him a gift (chocolate). Then all the sudden she explodes from an RPG round with guts everywhere as he is set upon by live fire losing his hand and leg and a slow dramatic loss of all his buddies.

He could relive that every time he sees a girl in a white dress or when someone offers him chocolate. Every time he relives that he could enter a fugue states and repress it again. During recollection he could believe he has just been set upon and is trying to attack and defend himself or he could be trying to run away. performing real world actions under the lens of his recollection.

He could see interactive hallucinations of those who died. They could convey other repressed information through the survival mechanic.

The occurrence would be random as encounters of stimuli would be random. The duration would be random as well and linked the strength of associating stimmuli.

Note: The human mind is a very individual thing. It can follow a very logical progression of cause and effect but it can also demonstrate a degree of completely unexpected and contradictory results. Clinical diagnosis of various conditions are fairly generic applying to many potential causes and a range of relative effects. Very rarely is a condition clear cut in its cause and effect. Its the difference between a category and bob.

  • $\begingroup$ I should also mention that i don't think a state this severe would last forever. Each recollection would also be an attempt by the mind to desensitize itself from its effect ie the subject gaining acceptance of the event (ending repression). Im not suggesting PTSD is self healing however I am saying the psychological impact of the memory would degrade over time thus ending the fugue states. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Nov 1, 2017 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ the problem with PTSD is that a patient's condition rarely improves over time without medical assistance. In fact, it tends to become worse. $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Nov 2, 2017 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Olga not really a problem with the OP's scenario, and it cant get worse than this only better. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Nov 2, 2017 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ @anon the next step is full-blown psychosis. PTSD even as severe as you suggest still is not quite there. Also, as psychologists like to say, it does not matter whether the glass is half empty or half full, what really matters is how long you are forced to hold it in your extended hand. PTSD is similar to that glass, the longer you hold it the heavier it becomes. $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Nov 2, 2017 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Well regardless it still fits the OPs needs $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Nov 2, 2017 at 14:49

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