Teacher With Rare Form Of Amnesia Goes Missing Amid Hurricane Destruction

Teacher With Rare Form Of Amnesia Goes Missing Amid Hurricane Destruction

 “It’s definitely made me reconsider everything. Who was I before? Who was I then—is that part of me? Who am I now?” The New York Times reports Hannah Upp, a 32-year-old teacher in St. Thomas, disappeared Sept. 14, a week after Hurricane Irma hit the Virgin Islands. Her clothes, car, keys, cellphone, passport, and wallet were found at a beach where she had gone for a swim. Upp was still missing five days later when Hurricane Maria battered the Caribbean. Upp is far from the only person missing in the wake of the storms, but her case is unique in that she may not even know she’s missing. Upp has dissociative fugue, a very rare type of amnesia made famous by the fictional Jason Bourne. “Normally, we forget things in little pieces,” Dr. David Spiegel says. “These people forget things in large pieces that involve what they’ve done for the last year or two years.”

In 2008, Upp was found floating face down in New York Harbor by a ferry captain. She had been missing for three weeks at that point and remembered nothing of that period. “I went from going for a run to being in the ambulance,” Upp said after her rescue. Newsweekreports Upp disappeared again in 2013 in Maryland—this time for two days. Now friends and family are hoping Upp has once again entered a fugue state and didn’t drown or fall victim to a crime. “My hope is that she found somewhere safe to hide,” friend Maggie Guzman says. Official resources are stretched thin responding to the two hurricanes, so Upp’s friends have been searching for her and putting up posters, hoping she sees one. “If she’s in her fugue state, it would at least get her to the point where she realizes something’s wrong,” friend Jake Bradley tells the Virgin Islands Daily News.

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