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Modern day Dadas or ...
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Sunday, 13 May 2007 16:00

On Sunday evening, March 18, 2007, Italian Carabinieri found themselves grappling with the mysterious case of a young man who had wandered into the their Vercelli barracks. By the time the media picked up the story, officials had determined the young mans oddessey began 70 miles to the northeast near the city of Bergamo, on Thursday evening, March 15th and culminated when he walked through their front door on Sunday evening, claiming that, "he did not know who he was or why he was there."[1] This case is, to say the least, curious: UFOs, esoteric symbology, an abbey, a cemetary, rituals, and blood. Lots of blood.

On Friday, March 16th, "the owner of a bed-sit broke into a flat after the tenant had missed his rent." The walls and floors were covered with "upturned crosses and esoteric symbols written in blood." It was estimated that 3 litres of blood was used to make the drawings and although the majority belonged to the amnestic young man in Vercelli, officials also found blood that did not belong to him.[2] Additionally, while the young mans body bore an "inch-long scar and several punctures" medical examiners felt the wounds "did not correspond with drawing of blood." To add to the growing mystery, the young man--who tested negative for drugs--claimed that he did not recognize his parents. Further compounding matters Bergamo officials noted that the hard drive from a computer found in the flat was missing, as was the sim card from a cell phone found in the same flat.[3]

And just who was this mysterious young man with seemingly no memory, no past, and no obvious blood loss? Investigators determined that he was 22-year-old Daniele Zamboni, of Seriate--an assembler who had worked in a factory in Grassobbio. Cell phone records reveal that Zambonis last call was made to his father on Monday, March 12th. His car was found in Bergamo center on March 16th along with two photographs and a pair of binoculars. And receipts recovered from a nearby business indicate that he had been a hotel guest in Piemonte on March 16th and 17th, and that he had even ordered pizza the evening prior to appearing at the Carabinieri barracks in Vercelli. Nonetheless, psychiatrist who examined Zamboni believed "he was not feigning his amnesia."

With reports of an abbey, where Zamboni felt he may have been taken to during his stay in Piemonte,[4] along with vague memories of a cemetary and a "theatre of strange rituals,"[5] some believe that a "Satanic" or "Vampire" cult is operating in the Piemontese Province. Others wonder if Musine mount may have any signficance due to reported "nocturnal sights" and its relationship to "ufologi and esoteristi" or if he might have been a victim of a "ufology cult." It has even been proffered that Zamboni attempted to re-enact the ritual of the "Sacred one of Saint Michele."[6] While the prima facie value of the aforementioned theories are indeed provocative, psychology experts seem to think Zamboni experienced a psychotic break--that he may be what 19th century European doctors referred to as a "fuguer."

In his book, "Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illness," Ian Hacking hypothesizes that the appearance of "fuguers" in the late 1800s correlates with 19th century Europeans obsession with travel. The first documented case of a fuguer was " Albert Dadas," who was discovered by Philippe Tissie in 1885. Tissie, says Hacking, "was a young medical student" who "would not pass your average intern in any hospital at any time," and whom Hacking feared, "liked a good yarn." Tissie wrote of Dadas in his 1886 thesis, "Les Aliene voyageurs." The thesis was published in 1887. The second such case, Hacking notes, was discussed by Jean-Martin Charcot in 1888, with a fairly heated argument breaking out over whether these were cases of, in Charcots view, "hystero-epilepsie," or a more generalized, "automatisme ambulatoire."[7] Although the phenomenon never quite caught on in the Americas, it did make it into the medical journals, eventually evolving to psychogenic fugue in the DSM, and recently renamed to dissociative fugue. Per the DSM-IV-TR, dissociative fugue criteria are as follows.[8]

  • The predominant disturbance is sudden, unexpected travel away from home or ones customary place of work, with inability to recall ones past.
  • Confusion about personal identity or assumption of a new identity (partial or complete)
  • The disturbance does not occur exclusively during the course of Dissociative Identity Disorder and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., temporal lobe epilepsy).
  • The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impariment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Is Daniele Zamboni a modern day "Dadas?" Or is this a case of foul play? Although evidence -- unidentified blood and the missing disk drive & sim card -- appear to strongly support the latter, Zamboni's behavior leading up to the incident is informative. For example, his rent was late well before the onset of the amnestic episode. Furthermore, reports suggest he was no longer working at the factory in Grassobbio. His parents also noted that he "broke with his past" and "had become increasingly interested in UFOs." This sudden change in behavior arguably signifies a possible manifestation of his descent into self-imposed isolation--an isolation that began as far back as September of last year. Additionally, from the psychiatric reports, Zamboni's plight appears to be genuine. These together seem to give credence to the former. After all, a stranger is not required to dispose of a computer disk and cell phone sim card. The foreign blood however, remains an anomaly that must be resolved. Thus, if the latter--foul play--indeed applies, another question remains to be answered. Is Zamboni the victim or is there a player that has yet to be revealed? At this time, investigators believe that Zamboni may be the victim of an Internet rendezvous gone bad.[9] Thus, unless evidence to the contrary becomes available, Domenico Chiaro, the prosecutor, is investigating the case as an attempted murder. An attempted murder of Daniele Zamboni, that is.


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