When Michael Thomas Boatwright woke up at the Desert Regional Medical Center in Southern California after having been unconscious for a few days, he had no idea who Michael Thomas Boatwright was.
Police had found Boatwright in a Motel 6 along with identification and five tennis racquets. When questioned, Boatwright didn't recall his childhood in Florida, serving in the U.S. Navy, or ever playing tennis. When he was shown pictures of himself with friends or family, he didn’t even recognize himself.
Why? Because he was convinced that his name was Johan Ek; further compounding the bizarre turn of events: he only spoke in Swedish.
Five months later and the 61-year-old man says that he is accepting that he is "Michael Boatwright," but only because that’s what his doctors have advised. In his heart, he is still Johan Ek from Sweden.
Social worker at Desert Regional Medical Center, Lisa Hunt-Vasquez, has been working with Boatwright to figure out just who he is. They’ve found a lot: he served in the Navy from 1971 to 1973 as an aviation mechanic; he taught English in China and Japan; he was married and divorced; and he has a son. And he has several Swedish connections, which would explain his fluency in the language. But other than that, the rest is a mystery.
According to the Desert Sun newspaper, Boatwright is in a "fugue state," a condition in which personal identity is lost. Just, gone. Fugue states, such as dissociative fugue, are often triggered by trauma, such as the death of a loved one or a serious accident, Dr. Aaron Anderson, a neurologist at Emory University School of Medicine, explained to CNN.
Patients sometimes take on different personalities, Anderson added. The rare condition often goes away on its own, but it can take a while.
Until then, the hospital would like to discharge Boatwright, but they have no place to send him, said Richard Ramhoff, a spokesman for Desert Regional Medical Center. There’s no place like home; unfortunately, no one knows where home is for Michael Thomas Boatwright.
CNN reports on the strange story below:
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