Photo: Flickr via hkd
It sounds like a tale only Nicholas Sparks could have spun, but an Australian man has been reunited with his family after suffering from a rare mental disorder for more than two decades. Gabriel Nagy, now nearing 70, never came home for lunch on Jan. 21, 1987, reports The Courier-Mail’s Kate Kyriacou.
His car was found burnt out on the side of the road and after months of searching, his family believed he was dead––or simply didn’t want to be found.
“It was just so traumatic for everyone,” his daughter Jennifer said. “It really affected me emotionally. People would ask ‘where’s your dad?’. It was too much, too painful.”
It was a hunch by a detective that led to a Medicare record under Nagy’s name that solved the mystery earlier this year. According to his family, Nagy had suffered a form of amnesia called Dissociative Fugue, which was likely caused during the accident that wrecked his car.
The disorder erases huge periods of time from an individual’s memory. In Nagy’s case, 46 years of his life as a father of two and husband vanished.
“People with dissociative fugue temporarily lose their sense of personal identity and impulsively wander or travel away from their homes or places of work,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. Often, it’s caused by severe stress from a traumatic event.
In 2006, a Washington man was lost for a month and wound up in Denver before he remembered the fiance and family he’d left behind.
What makes fugue patients so hard to track is that they don’t typically show any physical symptoms that would raise suspicion by the average joe on the street. They can create entirely new identities.
Nagy is regaining his memory and recently reunited with his now adult children.
“I’d been living under a pseudonym for a long time but I’d been having flashes of my proper name,” Nagy said. “Things were slowly returning.”
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