What is it called when you can’t remember things? 

A number of words share the same meaning as forgetfulness— with all describing the state of not being able to remember for a short or long period of time, but amnesia is the actual word to use when you want to emphasize forgetfulness or intensify the point of one’s forgetfulness. 

We’ve unlocked that word at the very beginning of this piece simply to eschew circumlocutions but it shouldn’t make it seem to you that that is all to your question. 

You can be assured that reading further will leave you with insightful knowledge of the topic and help you understand the right wording in this respect. 

As to the effectiveness of the word ‘amnesia’, a medical source has described it as serious memory loss. 

Of course, it is not uncommon to see people with amnesia have difficulty remembering names as well as faces. They may also struggle to remember locations and how to get to them. The frequent recurrence of this and experiences alike may be typical signs you should look out for before using the word. 

Note, however, that not being able to recollect simple details like the ones previously mentioned is not always a sign of amnesia or any serious forgetfulness conditions. It could, as a matter of fact, be a sign of being highly intelligent. For further reading on this, we’d recommend you read our article on “Do geniuses remember everything?” and “Are geniuses good at everything?”. 

Amnesia being a broad term to describe several memory loss conditions has been clustered into two categories, namely: Retrograde Amnesia and Anterograde Amnesia, where the former denotes the inability to recollect memories from the past. 

On the other hand, people suffering from Anterograde Amnesia remember past experiences but have difficulty forming new memories. 

What causes Amnesia? 

Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of amnesia. And sometimes the condition may simply be a symptom of the disease. It is inescapable to mention Alzheimer’s as the major cause of amnesia because come to think of it, it is a condition that about 24 million people across the globe suffer from. 

Admittedly, there are other causes of amnesia, but since this isn’t exactly a medical piece aimed at an exposition of the topic, we will only suggest a study you can continue with in case you’d like to know more: WebMD’s The causes of amnesia.

In a nutshell, amnesia is the loss of memories, such as facts, information, and experiences. It can be caused by damage to brain areas that are involved in memory processing. 

People with amnesia usually have trouble forming new memories or recalling past events, but they may still know who they are and other general knowledge. It also doesn’t automatically affect people’s personalities. 

Similar words 

Some other words that can be used in referring to the condition of not being able to remember things are:

  • Forgetfulness

The tendency to forget facts or events over time is regarded as forgetfulness. This is normal and happens to everyone, especially as they age. Forgetfulness can be caused by many factors, such as lack of attention, stress, or distraction. 

People with forgetfulness may not remember where they put something or what they had for breakfast, but they can usually recall important information when prompted. 

Forgetfulness is a broad term and it is usually used as an umbrella for several other similar terms. It is for this reason that many see forgetfulness as the right word to use whenever they contemplate the propriety of similar words in unusual contexts

  • Blocking

Blocking is the temporary inability to retrieve a memory that you know you have. This is also normal and happens to everyone, especially when trying to recall names or words. 

Blocking can be caused by interference from similar memories or lack of cues. People with blocking may have the feeling of something being on the tip of their tongue, but they can’t think of it.

  • Misattribution

This is the confusion of the source or details of a memory. This can happen to anyone, but it may become more frequent with age. Misattribution can be caused by faulty memory encoding or retrieval, or by external influences such as suggestion or misinformation. 

People with misattribution may remember something accurately in part, but mix up some details, such as the time, place, or person involved. Misattribution may also be a symptom of amnesia. 

With this, it is hoped you won’t have difficulty finding a word to use when describing the inability to remember things. 

What is it called when you can remember everything? 

Hyperthymesia is the rare ability to recall nearly all past experiences in great detail. This is not normal and of course, it affects only a few people in the world. 

The causes of hyperthymesia are unknown, but some theories suggest that it may have biological, genetic, or psychological origins. 

People with hyperthymesia may remember every day of their lives, but they may also have difficulty forgetting unwanted or trivial information.

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