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Dissociative Amnesia and Fugue

22 September, 2015 - 15:36

Dissociative amnesia is apsychological disorder that involves extensive, but selective, memory loss, but in which thereisno physiological explanation for the forgetting (van der Hart & Nijenhuis, 2009). 1 The amnesia is normally brought on by a trauma—a situation that causes such painful anxiety that the individual “forgets” in order to escape. These kinds of trauma include disasters, accidents, physical abuse, rape, and other forms of severe stress (Cloninger & Dokucu, 2008). 2 Although the personality of people who are experiencing dissociative amnesia remains fundamentally unchanged—and they recall how to carry out daily tasks such as reading, writing, and problem solving—they tend to forget things about their personal lives—for instance, their name, age, and occupation—and may fail to recognize family and friends (van der Hart & Nijenhuis, 2009). 3

A related disorder, dissociative fugue, is a psychological disorder in which an individual loses complete memory of his or her identity and may even assume a neone, often far from home. The individual with dissociative fugue experiences all the symptoms of dissociative amnesia but also leaves the situation entirely. The fugue state may last for just a matter of hours or may continue for months, as it did with Jeffrey Ingram. Recovery from the fugue state tends to be rapid, but when people recover they commonly have no memory of the stressful event that triggered the fugue or of events that occurred during their fugue state (Cardeña & Gleaves, 2007). 4