On July 3, 2003, Doug Bruce found himself on a New York subway headed for Coney Island. Looking around at the nearly-empty car, he realized not only did he not know where he was going, but he also had no idea where he had been, or who he was. At some point in the previous 36 hours, everything he knew about himself had vanished, and he was now a nothing more than an anonymous man clad in shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops, with no identification and only the few possessions he carried in a backpack. Terrified, Bruce turned himself into the police.
Equally befuddled, the police took Bruce to the emergency room, where it was determined that, apart from some mild bruising on his head, there was nothing physically wrong with him. Untreatable and still unknown, he was eventually placed in the hospital’s psych ward, where, when he was asked to give permission for his belongings to be put in storage, Bruce picked up a pen and signed his name. Talking about that moment a week later, he is moved almost to tears at the memory of discovering that “I am somebody.” Like many signatures, however, his was essentially unintelligible, and Bruce was told he would be kept in the ward until someone identified him.