Jimmie G: Classified as a Korsakov's Syndrome sufferer, i.e., lacking short-term memory and thus unable to store any new long-term memories, and also suffering from retrograde amnesia. Jimmie's long term memories are restricted to those formed before the age of 19, although the onset of his anterograde amnesia occurred when he was approximately 40 years old. He remembers the experiences of that 19th year as though they are happening in the present, can only use concepts formed before that age (though enlisted in the Navy until 1965, he did not know in 1975 what a space satellite was). He cannot remember new acquaintances for more than a few minutes; everyone is a stranger to him. Oliver Sacks describes Jimmie's personality as cheerful, though he is aware of being "lost."
Korsakov's Syndrome (also, Korsakoff Syndrome) is frequently associated with alcoholism; intense alcoholism causes thiamine deficiencies, which frequently lead to problems in the part of the brain known as the diencephalon, impairing an individual's ability to record short-term memories (thus stunting long-term memory, as well).
Sometimes referred to as amnesic syndrome, the conditions and symptoms of Korsakov's include:
In addition to occuring as a result of chronic alcoholism, Korsakov's also stems from thiamin deficiencies arising from malnourishment, malabsorption, hyperemesis, and head traumas, including tumors. Also, from extreme metal poisoning.
People with Korsakov's Syndrome, such as Jimmy G (a patient remembered by Oliver Sacks in his book, The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), are frequently able to get on with their lives even without the ability to acquire new memories. Though frequently confused, as Jimmy G, when he couldn't make any sense of how old his brother looked, these people do not suffer from depression or hopelessness, as they continually forget that they are suffering from a disorder. Sacks recounted that Jimmy G found a job as a typist, and was able to fulfill his duties, as long as they were tailored to his needs; he continued to believe that he was 19 years old.