Anosognosia by Traci Mullins


1: n. from the Greek: a meaning without; noso meaning disease; gnosia meaning knowledge

You insisted on a third opinion because the first two doctors were idiots. 

“Fine” is how you describe yourself, and I don’t correct you. After all, a good daughter doesn’t correct her mother.

2: lack of ability to perceive the realities of one’s own condition

“Sandra, I’m going to ask you a series of questions. First, what day of the week is it?” 

“Thursday,” you pronounce. 

It’s Monday, but we don’t correct you. After all, who doesn’t forget what day it is sometimes?

3: a condition in which a person with a disability is cognitively unaware of having it

“What year is it?” 


It’s 2019, but we don’t correct you. After all, don’t we all wish we were 29 again?

4: not the same as denial

“What state are we in?” 


You lived there when you were 25, so I don’t correct you. After all, you’ve always said your twenties were the happiest years of your life.

5: a sick person’s unawareness that she is sick

“Please remember these five objects. I will ask you what they are later.”

Apple     Pen     Tie     House     Car

You nod confidently, and I smile reassurance. After all, who can’t recall a few simple words?

6: an inability or refusal to recognize a defect or disorder that is clinically evident 

“Please name as many animals as you can in one minute.” 

“Dog, cat, bird…um…” 

A hint of alarm creases your brow. After all, you expected more of yourself.

7lack of insight or awareness of one’s condition, which can make treatment difficult to achieve

“What are the five objects I asked you to remember?” 


Your eyes plead with me, but the doctor shakes her head imperceptibly. After all, we’re in collusion. I asked her for a diagnosis, even if the truth was brutal.

8: perhaps the most difficult to understand for those who have never experienced it

The doctor asks several more questions, but your face is a storm cloud now. After all, who’s idea was this nonsense?

9: a person’s inability to accept that they have a condition that matches up with their symptoms or a formal diagnosis

“Sandra, your score confirms that you have Alzheimer’s disease. It will progress to the point that you won’t recognize your loved ones.” 

“Idiot,” you whisper. 

But I see terror in your eyes.

Traci Mullins, a non-fiction book editor by day, is enjoying unearthing the young girl who loved stories. She discovered flash fiction in 2017 and has been published in four anthologies, Flash Fiction Magazine, Panoply, Fictive Dream, Bending Genres, Flash Boulevard, Cabinet of Heed, Bright Flash Literary Review, (mac)ro(mic), Blink-Ink, Ellipsis Zine, and many others. She was a two-time finalist in the London Independent Story Prize competition.