A new film, Unknown White
Male, tells the real-life story of a man who, in July 2003, finds himself on
the subway in New York with no idea who he is or where he is going. In footage
shot a week later, he describes walking into a hospital on Coney Island in New
York, to explain to the staff that he has lost his memory and only has a single
clue to his own identity: a phone number he doesn’t recognise inside a book he
is carrying. For their notes, the staff christen him ‘Unknown White Male’.
story of how he discovers his name – Doug Bruce – where he lives, what he does
and his friends and his family. Has Doug suffered severe retrograde amnesia?
None of the experts seem quite sure as there are no obvious physiological
causes. Is Doug faking it for a laugh? It doesn’t seem likely. Finally, and
most disturbingly, does Doug actually want to be ‘cured’? Perhaps not.
develops into a philosophical meditation on the meaning of personality,
friendship and family, as both Doug and those closest to him struggle to
understand what has happened, and what it means to them.
is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from
University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book
“Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks.