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The AMNESIA MEMOIRS


FOREWORD

I started writing this as a suicide note on June 26, 1993 when I realized that I had fallen into a trap and that all the escape routes were blocked. The trial of my personal injury lawsuit for my knee injury was going to take place that summer. Since August 1990, three months after I had escaped death under the wheels of a Transit Authority bus in New York City, (see Part I: Operation "Roadkill") the evidence of intent on the part of the bus driver had been wiped out from my memory like a clean surgical excision and I was living under the benign belief that "it was just an accident". Dissociative amnesia is a well-known phenomenon which, in the absence of any physical trauma to the head, sets in as a reflex of self-preservation to prevent mental and emotional disintegration when a psychological trauma is too severe. Because of this selective amnesia, I did not understand what was happening to me, I was terrified and the mental and emotional suffering were so unbearable that I wanted to die.

What almost pushed me over the edge were the strange and frightening incidents happening on the home front, which I started to document in writing to make sure that I was not losing my mind while continuing the writing of my suicide note. I thought that these incidents must be related to the imminent trial because they had never happened before. I was so terrified of being murdered that killing myself seemed a preferable alternative.

Financially I didn't know how I could survive either: the money award from the trial, my inheritance, my work... all my sources of income were blocked at the same time; the attitude of my lawyers convinced me that they were working to make me lose my case; my mother was always finding new excuses not to send me my inheritance money; I had been terrorized out of playing the guitar in public so I had no way of making a living. I doubted that all this was happening simultaneously by mere coincidence and suspected my mother was responsible, her motive being, I assumed, that she wanted to make me sign my inheritance rights away for a song. So even though I was incapable of suspecting her in the bus incident because of my amnesia, I still thought her capable of killing her daughter for money: in my suicide note I pointed the finger at her, saying that she was forcing me to end my life, thereby committing the perfect crime. But I couldn't just write "My mother made me do it"! I had to provide some context. I had always enjoyed writing, and now I was reporting the daily events, curious about what was going to happen next as if it was not really happening to me but to the protagonist in a novel, and I rooted for myself to bring the story to a happy ending.

The narrative starts in 1988 and after twelve chapters it turns into a diary in which I try to make sense not only of what is happening to me here and now but also of what happened to me in my childhood. Thus progressively the suicide note became the story of my life. There are so many crimes to deal with that while I am solving the old ones new ones are already in the works and about to happen. By the time I realize that all the burglaries, thefts, vandalism, robberies etc. that happened to me had my mother behind them, I am ready emotionally to accept the fact that she was behind the attempt against my life as well.

In late 1993 the amnesia that prevented me from understanding what was going on started lifting. The memories came back in tiny flashes until early 1995 when I had the whole picture of the "accident".

Even after I recovered my memory, it was impossible sometimes to understand what was happening to me at the moment. So I jotted down what happened on a commercial diary and only after I had understood the meaning of a particular incident did I write the diary on my computer, sometimes two or three months after the facts.

Except for minor editing, the text appears in the original version, with the original headings. I got a chill when, while proofreading this narrative before putting it on the web, I read a particular heading I wrote while still under amnesia. I was making a play of words: "Assessing the Assassins", but this particular title was a subconscious statement of a reality that still escaped me, if Freud's studies of witticism are to be believed. (He calls this type of witticism an "assonance".) What interests me the most in this work is 1) the emotional state in which I wrote (terror, despair, incomprehension) expressed "live"; 2) the subconscious workings of the mind, in particular how the subconscious makes connections between apparently unrelated items; 3) the process of healing from the old childhood wounds through the ability to see a scene vividly as if it was happening in the present and through the written description of it; 4) the quest for regaining my sense of innocence that goes on in my effort to get rid of shame and guilt of unknown origin while I am still ignorant of the extent of the crimes committed against me: this proves that instilling in me these feelings of shame and guilt was a strategy my mother used to cover up her own misdeeds; 5) the fact that the predictions of the handwriting analyst and my own forebodings and dreams were fulfilled beyond the most pessimistic expectations; 6) the unique perspective offered by the mother-daughter relationship for the study of psychopathology (this is my diagnosis); 7) the casual cruelty and corruption of everybody, what Hannah Arendt calls "the banality of evil" from the roommate to the judge, as if acting corruptly was the normal way of doing things, regardless of the consequences to me. Indeed, nobody in this whole affair seems to have stopped one instant to wonder "But doesn't this make her life horrible to live? And what harm did she do me that I should cause her such suffering?" The prevailing view seems rather to have been "Well, she can't fight back so my chances of being caught are minimal."

Although I have preserved the original text because of its intrinsic value, it was necessary at times to add a few details, explanations or comments. Therefore all the 1999 additions I made appear between [brackets] or in a different font.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This writing would not have been possible without my cat: at the time I was most resolute to end my life and was considering the various ways of doing it, I didn't want my cat to fall into the wrong hands after my death, and I couldn't bring myself to have her euthanized just because I wanted to die myself. So just by being there my cat made me acknowledge the value of all life and saved me.


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