Taiwanese Man Left with Almost No Memory Keeps Notes of Everything So He Doesn’t Forget Who He Is

Chen Hongzhi, from Hsinchu county, in north-western Taiwan, suffers from a unique condition – he can’t remember anything for more than five minutes. The 25-year-old literally has to start his life from scratch every day. So he writes down every single thing about himself in a diary, in order to keep track of everything that goes on around him.

Hongzhi’s amnesia is the result of a serious head injury sustained during a car accident when he was 17 years old. After spending months in intensive care, his body finally recovered but the span of his memory was reduced to only five minutes. This means that he continually forgets pretty much everything that has happened between five and ten minutes ago.


Hongzhi does not even remember how to write properly, due to his debilitating condition. He makes notes about his daily life in a phonetic ‘scrawl’, which only he can understand. When he wakes up every morning, his mother, Wang Miao-chiong, has to remind him that he is no longer 17. Shen then hands him his notebook so that he can catch up on everything that has happened since the accident.

“This is my record, I write in it every day, even if it is pouring down with rain or if I don’t go out to do the weeding I still must write, ‘Heavy rain,’” he said. “Whenever I get home from any time away I quickly grab my notebook and write down important things from the day – who I’ve met, what I’ve done, how much money I got from recycling bottles, all that sort of stuff.”


Miao-chiong, who is now 60 years old, says that the system they’ve established is working pretty well. Although Hongzhi’s condition makes it impossible for him to get a job, the family is able to get by on donations from neighbors and friends. The local village chief ensures that the family receives monthly support from Hsinchu County’s social welfare department. The resilient young man also makes a small income by walking several miles a day to collect plastic bottles and recycle them. He also collects pieces of wood that his mother uses to make a fire to cook food.

For now, the mother and son duo are totally dependent on each other – she relies on him for physical strength while supporting him emotionally. But Miao-chiong is worried about what will happen to Hongzhi after she is gone, especially since his father passed away recently. She had initially hoped to send him back to school, but she soon realized that there was no point. “It had been planned that he would go back to school, but there was no point as he could never remember the lessons, and has been living at home with me ever since,” she said.


Hongzhi has gained a lot of recognition on social media, after he was spotted by a traveler while collecting bottles. Fascinated by his story, the traveler posted it online, and it spread quickly. Chinese netizens have compared his story to Nicole Kidman’s character in the film Before I Go to Sleep.

Hongzhi and his mother have received several offers from people wanting to donate money. Chief Liu, however, explained that the family needs more practical, everyday stuff like rice, salt, soy sauce, and tissue paper. “Once the basics are sorted out, perhaps it might be possible to look at taking the time to find something more for the mid-term and long-term, but at the moment they just need to survive,” he said.


Hongzhi, meanwhile, is quite happy that people are willing to help, especially when he goes through the notes in his diary. And although he’s lost his memory, his sense of humor seems intact. “I am reading here about all the people that want to give me money, but I would say don’t give me too much, because it looks as if I’ll probably forget where I put it all,” he joked.

Source: Daily Mail

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