What’s in a name – A condition called anomia

What’s in a name – A condition called anomia

What's in a name - A condition called anomia

One of the popular pickup lines is, ‘Have we met before?’. What if it wasn’t just a pickup line? You may have actually met someone beautiful before and are unable to recall her name now.

Imagine meeting a pretty girl in a party you went to. You are lucky enough that she was kind to you and gave her phone number. Next morning, you have the number, you have a phone, you are ready to call but you don’t remember her name. A nightmare would be better, isn’t it? But this happened with Saurabh.

Anyone remembers the movie ‘Awara Pagal Deewana’? The character played by Paresh Rawal keeps forgetting names. Wife, daughter, son-in-law or neighbour, there isn’t a single name he can recall correctly. Not even his own! Sounds funny, it added humour to the movie and entertained the audience.

But take a moment and think what if it were to come true for someone. Then it won’t be funny anymore. There actually exists a medical condition called as anomia.


The condition is medical in nature. Like all medical terms, it has a peculiar name too. It is called Anomia or Aphasic Anomia or Nominal Anomia.

In this condition, the affected person has specific memory problems remembering names of people or objects. They are confused while talking because they are unable to use names. A name gives identity to a being or thing. The challenge is big. It is to have a conversation without being able to spell out the exact identities of subjects discussed.

Such people may talk in long or roundabout sentences. They often try to describe the people or objects with the help of certain related qualities.

When Saurabh couldn’t remember the name of that girl, he went and spoke to Rahul, his friend at the party. Saurabh kept referring to that girl, and repeatedly mentioned – the girl in red dress, the girl with long hair, the girl who stood on the right when they were clicking pictures. Fortunately, Rahul could help him and recalled the girl’s name – Avanti. Saurabh immediately called Avanti and this was the beginning to a happy ending.

Not everyone is this lucky and not every time. Saurabh was once stuck at a shop trying to buy soap but didn’t remember the name of the brand he wanted. Another patient, Jaya once got down from the bus but couldn’t ask the directions to her destination because she didn’t remember the building’s name. It was the day for a job interview. Situations can get tricky and may even lead to some long term loss.

Why does it happen?

Head injury is the most common cause, affecting the brain. This may happen due to an accident. Rarely the injury may also be a result of some illnesses like a stroke or a tumour. You might wonder why such a peculiar effect. The explanation is quite easy. We all know human brain is an extremely complex machine. The greatest scientists have not been able to comprehend it entirely. So farthe progress is largely based on a simple approach – division of areas.

How do you organize a big town or a city? By dividing the areas and assigning zip codes to them. Similarly, the brain is divided into various areas according to the specific functions it performs. This aids study and helps in isolating cause of specific conditions. One such area is related to speech and memory. Injury to this part through accident or illness leads to anomia.

Victor or Victim?

It is a struggle to live with such a problem. On the other hand, if we put things in perspective, we will see that the situation could have been much worse. Why choose to be a victim, instead find a way to battle it out.

Learn from the difficult experiences and think of ways to handle such situations.

One can carry a pocketbook and make frequent notes of people’s names as they meet them.

Always carry a list of items to buy when you go shopping.

When going out, keep a written reminder of person and place to meet.

Most important, always have a little note of names and numbers of family members. When in trouble, family always rushes to rescue.

With a little positivity and alertness, life can be good with anomia too.

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