This disease was first described by S.S. Korsakov in 1877, calling it a polyneuritic psychosis due to the fact that along with gross mental disorders, there are phenomena of polyneuritis (damage to the peripheral nerves). Typically, the development of this disease is preceded by a heavy alcoholic delirium, to the clinical picture of which gross memory impairments join. First of all, memory is disturbed for current events, i.e. memorization (fixative amnesia). Therefore, the patient cannot correctly name the date, place of his location, disoriented in the environment, because perceives everything as just seen and heard. He turns to his doctor every time as a stranger, repeatedly repeats the same requests. The patient does not remember what he ate for lunch, who came to his hospital, what he did during the day. He replaces the gaps in memory with events that happened to him earlier, or simply with fictions and fantasies.
Events preceding the disease also fall out of memory. The duration of such a period that has fallen from memory can be varied, from several months to several years. The logical thinking of patients is not violated, therefore, patients compensate for gross memory disorders with quick wit and ingenuity. Patients are partially aware of their illness and try to hide memory gaps from others.