Forget all old memories or be unable to form new ones?

You’ve offended a great sorcerer and he is going to punish you with a memory spell but you get to choose which one.

In the first you forget who you were and who you knew and your pasts with them, loved ones and loved nots alike. Kindly he will let you keep the knowledge you need to work but you do not remember how you learned to do these things. You can form new memories just fine.

In the second you can form no new memories of your experiences. You can learn new skills but you won’t remember learning them.

Which do you choose?

Living every day without remembering the day before is a terrifying thought. I wouldn’t be thrilled about losing all memory of my past, but it would be so much easier to deal with for the rest of my life than never being able to form new memories. I can’t even imagine someone choosing to hang onto their past at the expense of their future memories.

If nothing else, you would become pretty much incapable of holding a job or maintaining a relationship. I expect this to be an almost entirely universal poll result.

To clarify: if I go this way, I gather I will have no lasting memories of anything that happens after I make the choice. What sort of short-term memory will I have? Will I remember what I did five seconds ago? Five minutes? An hour? Everything since I woke up this morning, but nothing from yesterday or any other day since the spell was cast?

Memento was not a pleasant movie. Wipe my past please.

Retrograde amnesia would be unpleasant and inconvenient.

Anterograde would be nightmarish.

At my age I cherish my past memories and don’t have that many future ones to look forward to anyway.

I’m OK with my past and the future could be fun. But 60 years or old memories vs maybe 10-15 future ones? I’ll maybe keep the past.

Being unable to form new memories would be awful - you’d be unable to function in society because you’d spend all your time wondering why you came into the room. You’d never remember if you’ve done the laundry. You’d never remember if you turned off the stove - even one second after you turned away from the stove. You’d break down from fear, confusion, and paranoia in minutes.

So I picked to get rid of old memories.

Now, if the scenario was different, then that might be different. Like, if your memory reset every day, rather than every instant. Then, in that case, if your life was basically over and you didn’t really do anything much of anything more anyway, then I could see choosing to keep old memories.

However my life isn’t over yet, so I’d rather start anew than be locked to the past. Plus I wouldn’t really start anew - my friends and family would remember me and, after they convinced me that they were my friends and family, would be happy to rebuild relationships with me. Whereas if I stopped remembering anything they’d said or done lately they’d drift away from me because I woudn’t be able to hold up my part of any interaction with them.

The only advantage of anterograde is that you would get a better living being an experimental subject. And it wouldn’t start to get boring…

That’s not how I remember it :smiley:

If you can’t form any new memories, would you even experience something like consciousness? How could you complete a thought?

Per the OP: “You can learn new skills but you won’t remember learning them.”

That’s classic anterograde amnesia. Your episodic memory that forms past experiences is disrupted. Your ability to learn tasks, and use existing memories is not affected (much). You are conscious in the moment.

I have this annoying thing where I’ll walk across the house for some reason, but when I pass through the door of the room I was heading for I forget why I wanted to go there. If that was happening all the time it would SUCK.

Yeah, and to try to remember you retrace your steps (literally or figuratively). Hoping that your procedural memory will kickstart conscious memories.

Clive Wearing is the man with both retrograde and anterograde amnesia at the same time. He cannot remember his past life and cannot form new memories either…his life is a seven-second loop of thinking he just awoke from a coma, over and over again. Horrific, Black Mirror level shit that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. He himself doesn’t even appear to be that distressed by the situation, but it must be hell for his family.

It’s usually the case that some amount of both exists; it’s rarely encapsulated by time period. Often someone will have anterograde, and lose weeks or months before and after their accident, but childhood is spared.