Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Do you know me?
August 25, 2001 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Do you know me? "I am a white male, Caucasian, about five feet, nine inches. I weigh 150lbs. I have no visible marks on my body. I have no memory of any events prior to waking up in the hospital in November of 1999."

"Philip Staufen" has naturally dark brown hair and he has brown eyes. He doesn't have any tattoos, distinguishing marks, or scars. He is a Vegan and has a digestive disorder called Celiac.

"Philip Staufen" is living a nightmare.
posted by o2b (30 comments total)

 
That is something straight out of a novel!
posted by revbrian at 7:49 AM on August 25, 2001


wow, thanks o2b. amazing. can you see a polaroid that says:

Canadian government: They will not help you out of pity.
posted by machaus at 8:16 AM on August 25, 2001


And perhaps the greatest mystery of all: why is "Ave Maria" the soundtrack to this man's life??? The world may never know.
posted by ChrisTN at 8:32 AM on August 25, 2001


Wait a minute here. I don't think the Canadian government is doing anything wrong. If I read the story in the Guardian, it's the British government that won't help him because they have no proof that he's actually British.
The Canadian government has been kind enough to do all the research to find out who he is, provide him with a monthly cheque and let him move around the country without any restrictions (unlike this poor guy).
I'm just suspicious as to why he won't submit to hypnosis. If you're that desperate to get on with your life, I'd think you'd try almost ANYTHING to figure out who you are.
posted by Grum at 8:32 AM on August 25, 2001


Intriguing story. I don't think he has all that much of a problem. He is still 'him' even if he doesn't have the names and places, the memories, to know what that 'him' once was, what it has done or where it originated; how it developed to what it is now. It seems perhaps his personality, strengths, talents, ideals have survived the injury giving him a fresh slate to be who he wants to be. I can imagine far worse situations and mental afflictions. I can't, however, think of many worse haircuts.
posted by Kino at 8:35 AM on August 25, 2001


Canada won't allow him a passport to travel abroad to where he is likely from given his accent and familiarity with foreign tongues.
posted by machaus at 8:36 AM on August 25, 2001


The policeman asked the British consulate for help, but officials there said they could not get involved because there was no proof Staufen was British.

OMFG
posted by rushmc at 8:46 AM on August 25, 2001


Interesting Kino that you attribute not being allowed to work or move about the world or even pursue the smallest pursuits such as driving, having identification (will a bar even serve him???) or following his own interests (what hobbies do YOU have that allow you to live, eat and still have a life on $500 a month???) as a freedom of sorts. A fresh slate is always nice but that is NOT what this is. This is a blank slate and therein lies the difference. You say that he has retained his personality, his strengths and talents and ideals and yet because he has no proof of past, no paper trail, he indeed can not use his god-given traits to better his own life. He is stuck in an emotional, mental and physical limbo not of his own choosing or making and all you can think to say is that you "don't think he has all that much of a problem"???

Tell you what, I will happily beat you about the head until you too have a "fresh slate" to start with, take away your identification, pay you $500 a month to live on and not allow you the freedom to pursue you life and deny you the memories that make you YOU. As a bonus, I will even skip the bad haircut. Sound good????
posted by gloege at 8:46 AM on August 25, 2001


Just keep him away from wheat!

What Happens

When individuals with Celiac Disorder (CD) ingest gluten, the villi, tiny, hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food, shrink or disappear. This is a destructive immunological reaction to gluten....

Some long-term conditions that can result from untreated CD:
Iron deficiency Anemia
Osteoporosis
Vitamin K deficiency associated with risk for hemorrhaging
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Central and peripheral nervous system disorders -- usually due to unsuspected nutrient deficiencies
Pancreatic insufficiency
Intestinal Lymphomas and other GI malignancies
Other food sensitivities/lactose intolerance
Other associated autoimmune disorders

posted by otherchaz at 8:56 AM on August 25, 2001


from The Celiac Disease Foundation
posted by otherchaz at 8:58 AM on August 25, 2001


hey! 'nuff of the haircut... looks strangely similar to one I had. Not so long ago actually... :D
posted by robzster1977 at 9:03 AM on August 25, 2001


Speaking of genetic diseases, I believe there is a company in England that can trace your midichlorians or mitochondria back to a specific region UK. That might help this guy. DNA can't lie or forget.
posted by otherchaz at 9:08 AM on August 25, 2001


I dunno, forgetting your past has advantages. Our brains are after all wired to dull senses and selectively remember and forget past events (mostly on the forgetting side).
posted by fleener at 9:21 AM on August 25, 2001


'Tell you what, I will happily beat you about the head until you too have a "fresh slate" to start with, take away your identification, pay you $500 a month to live on and not allow you the freedom to pursue you life and deny you the memories that make you YOU. As a bonus, I will even skip the bad haircut. Sound good????'

The urge to issue such a juvenile threat in a forum debate, gloage, is apt indication that you likely wouldn't be capable of such a feat anyhow.

'Interesting Kino that you attribute not being allowed to work or move about the world or even pursue the smallest pursuits such as driving, having identification (will a bar even serve him???) or following his own interests (what hobbies do YOU have that allow you to live, eat and still have a life on $500 a month???) as a freedom of sorts.'

Far more interesting is that you interpret my post to mean such a thing.

'You say that he has retained his personality, his strengths and talents and ideals and yet because he has no proof of past, no paper trail, he indeed can not use his god-given traits to better his own life. He is stuck in an emotional, mental and physical limbo not of his own choosing or making and all you can think to say is that you "don't think he has all that much of a problem"???

I'm speaking of his injuries, not his temporal struggle with governmental policy. He is protected by international human rights accords so the current red-tape fueled blocks on his freedom are guaranteed to be resolved.

I can only be optimistic about the wealth of capabilities be has retained for when they are - the fact that he's still functional and able to build a life - which is the most important aspect in all of this. As i said - it could be a lot worse. His temporary circumstances and living conditions, however, are a whole different story (and could also be so much worse). I stand by my feelings that he doesn't have that much of a problem relative to many. You, on the other hand, may have.
posted by Kino at 9:38 AM on August 25, 2001


I don't find an aversion to hypnosis indicative of anything. People have had false memories implanted in them as a result of hypnosis, and I think it better to have no memories than made-up ones. Of course, it doesn't take hypnosis to make false memories; I've done it to myself.

But let's not get started on false memories.
posted by meep at 10:02 AM on August 25, 2001


An interesting and upsetting case. Kino, I find your lack of compassion incredible. It's not the British at fault here. It's up to the Canadians to at least give this man the ability to work and travel.
posted by salmacis at 10:18 AM on August 25, 2001


what does it feel like to not be able to remember before a certain date?
posted by dai at 11:32 AM on August 25, 2001


What gave you any indication that i don't have compassion for this man Salmacis? At least hint at where my supposed guilt lies if your going to tag it 'incredible'.

And the fact that i'm not weeping ASCII tears here for him is in NO way tied to my nationality. I think the bureaucratic obstacles are unfortunate, in whatever country they fall, but they are, of course, there for a reason when applied to the masses. Obviously, his is an extremely rare case and will be treated as such. His current lack of rights/recognition are in the process of being resolved and in reaching my estimation of 'how bad is this mans problems from the information i've seen?' his health and whether he's retained ample amounts of his personality/intellectual ability, whether he has prospects to go on and live a happy, fulfilling existence filled with opportunity and access to good psychologists/counseling to help him along the way, whether he's living with a roof over his head and the ability to soon pursue a career of his own choosing and many other things that add up to 'current and future prospects for a good, enjoyable life' are prioritized. This man has all that. He has no physical handicaps. He has a knowledgable, able mind. He has striength. He has good prospects. I maintain that his problem isn't setting off alarm bells on the tragedy scale but that doesn't mean i don't feel as much compassion as you or anybody else does for him with regards the things that he's lost, the stuff he will have to adjust to, and the range of problems that he does have.
posted by Kino at 11:38 AM on August 25, 2001


This sounds like an interesting project actually. There must be a way for an average citizen to figure this stuff out. If he's reading sonnets in Latin at the age of 26, it is most likely that he is privately educated. Most people in England do not learn Latin at school. It's simply not offered.

If people think he may have learnt Latin at University, then they are likely to be incorrect - as it's a FRACTION of the people who go to university without an ancient language that end up leaving with one good enough to actively and easily enjoy reading in it.

I would suggest that a search for people aged 24-28 who attended private schools in the north of England cross-referenced with a simple check of GCSE and A-level results would almost certainly present a workable, and relatively short list of people who have functioning understandings of all those languages. It couldn't take THAT long, at that point, to track them.

I'm really interested in this. And it's far from impossible that Metafilter related people could figure this one out.
posted by barbelith at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2001


GRUM... I'm not sure that I would necessarily want to be hypnotised, either. It's not a fullproof practice, and hypnotised folks are notoriously impressionable... I don't know that I'd like to walk away from a session of hypnosis wondering whether the memories I suddenly had (if any were "uncovered") were mine or simply smudgemarks left on my psyche by the hypnotiser.

I'd much rather have Barbelith rescue me, drop me back in familiar stomping grounds, and have the magic of sight, sound, and smell coax memories from my mind.
posted by silusGROK at 1:03 PM on August 25, 2001


It's pretty strange. This level of complete "loss of identity" is frequently (as the article says) psychogenic ... though proving it's intentional is almost impossible, it often seems to turn out that the person is fleeing a bad situation, such as a bad marriage or a financial crisis -- e.g. this German man in Tucson.
posted by dhartung at 1:45 PM on August 25, 2001


The odds that this will not be revealed to be a scam are, in my cynical view, less than 10%.

Hardly anyone not of a well-monied, well-conected background have the sort of linguistic skills that the individual does ... and when they turn up missing, a global effort is exerted on their behalf.

At a bare minimum, had this person had an upper-class English education, there would be several English detectives getting weekly calls from the family solicitor asking about the progress of the case, and demanding that any even tentative possibilities be aggressively pursued.

I know that there have been incidents of cranial injuries which caused the injured person to suddenly manifest foreign accents, and, just maybe, posh-with-a-touch-of-Yorkshire is possible, but I really, really doubt it.
posted by MattD at 2:26 PM on August 25, 2001


You would think that someone, somewhere, would be looking for him -- a landlord looking for back rent; a bank looking for auto loan or mortgage payments; a girl/boyfriend looking for their lover; a parent wondering why their son hasn't called; a dog/cat/goldfish that hasn't been fed.
posted by crunchland at 3:30 PM on August 25, 2001


I betting this guy was raised on a commune, possibly a religiously fanatic one that abhors the eating of animals and studies scripture in their original form. One day he gets sick of being a cultist, takes off in the middle of the night leaving a note saying something to the effect of "fuck off" and no one cares enough to list him as a missing person. Technically he's not missing, just gone.

The stress and weirdness of the real word throws him in a psychological fugue and amnesia kicks in. Now he's got a clean slate and ready to live among the heathens, but still deeply disturbed.

Hey, my conjecture is as good as yours.
posted by skallas at 3:49 PM on August 25, 2001


Doesn't it just sound like some weird Sci-fi conspiracy novel?

Imagine: Some government is doing cloning research. They clone someone and either raise him in a lab or make it so that he's fully grown. They erase all of his memory except for those things which they either taught him before, or implanted after the memory wiping. Then they bloody him up and leave him on the street with a cadre of secret agents shadowing him to find out how he works out in the real world...

Total recall???
posted by fooljay at 4:19 PM on August 25, 2001


if this were a total recall scenario, he wouldn't have survived for a year with all this media attention. howzer's friends would've got to him long ago, and he would've disappeared, depriving this board of a fun discussion thread.
posted by dai at 6:12 PM on August 25, 2001


Does this mean he can't remember MC Hammer?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:05 AM on August 26, 2001


Related article from this weekend's Saturday Night: "Five decades after Edgar Baptiste went missing on a World War II battlefield, a man appeared on a Saskatchewan reserve with an old photograph and a strange tale of confused identity and lost memory. Has Baptiste returned from the dead?"
posted by sylloge at 1:07 AM on August 26, 2001


Holy jesus, a new excuse to go to work late!!

"I, uh, had some stomach disorders, which caused me to forget my name and where I worked... it took me six hours to find an old pay stub! You should be grateful that I didn't throw it out, or I would have never come in at all!"
posted by Turtletail at 8:06 PM on August 26, 2001


"At a bare minimum, had this person had an upper-class English education, there would be several English detectives getting weekly calls from the family solicitor asking about the progress of the case, and demanding that any even tentative possibilities be aggressively pursued."

This simply isn't true. Going to a private school doesn't make you upper class any more. Going to one of the REALLY TRADITIONAL ones might do so, but even then...

And you're assuming, of course, that the family want to find him and haven't just lost touch or had an argument of some kind. This isn't THAT implausible. If I think among the people that I've met in my life, my friend Will doesn't talk to his family for years at a time, and I doubt they'd care if he didn't turn up ever again. He was educated at an extremey expensive private school. More to the point, there's always the possibility that his family are dead or just really disorganised. Imagine a family argument, followed by a couple of months of silence, during which he gets a head injury. There's enough finality there to make a family think that he just didn't want to be found... Don't forget that a fair number of private schools (particularly the really expensive ones) are boarding schools. That can fray family ties quite substantially. And before anyone says 'that's a lot of ifs and maybes' you have to remember that if something weird HADN'T happened between him and his family then someone would have come forward. Just because he may have neen privately educated doesn't meant that that's still not possible...
posted by barbelith at 8:45 AM on August 28, 2001


« Older Are there limits to Freedom?...   |   Not many still-practiced sport... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments