dissociative amnesia

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Related to dissociative amnesia: dissociative identity disorder


pathologic impairment of memory. Amnesia is usually the result of physical damage to areas of the brain from injury, disease, or alcoholism. Psychologic factors may also cause amnesia; a shocking or unacceptable situation may be too painful to remember, and the situation is then retained only in the subconscious mind. The technical term for this is repression. (See also dissociative disorders.)

Rarely is the memory completely obliterated. When amnesia results from a single physical or psychologic incident, such as a concussion suffered in an accident or a severe emotional shock, the victim may forget only the incident itself; the victim may be unable to recall events occurring before or after the incident or the order of events may be confused, with recent events imputed to the past and past events to recent times. In another form, only certain isolated events are lost to memory.

Amnesia victims usually have a good chance of recovery if there is no irreparable brain damage. The recovery is often gradual, the memory slowly reclaiming isolated events while others are still missing. Psychotherapy may be necessary when the amnesia is due to a psychologic reaction.
anterograde amnesia impairment of memory for events occurring after the onset of amnesia. Unlike retrograde amnesia, it is the inability to form new memories.
circumscribed amnesia loss of memory for all events during a discrete, specific period of time. Called also localized amnesia.
continuous amnesia loss of memory for all events after a certain time, continuing up to and including the present.
dissociative amnesia the most common of the dissociative disorders; it is usually a response to some stress, such as a threat of injury, an unacceptable impulse, or an intolerable situation. The patient suddenly cannot recall important personal information and may wander about without purpose and in a confused state.

Persons with a dissociative disorder may at times forget what they are doing or where they are; when they regain self-awareness, they cannot recall what has taken place. A less severe form than amnesia is sleepwalking. Dissociative disorders are very likely an attempt by the mind to shield itself from the anxiety caused by an unresolved conflict. The patient, upon encountering a situation that may be symbolic of this inner conflict, goes into a form of trance to avoid experiencing the conflict.
generalized amnesia loss of memory encompassing the individual's entire life.
lacunar amnesia partial loss of memory; amnesia for certain isolated experiences.
post-traumatic amnesia amnesia resulting from concussion or other head trauma. Called also traumatic amnesia. See also amnestic syndrome.
psychogenic amnesia dissociative amnesia.
retrograde amnesia inability to recall events that occurred prior to the episode precipitating the disorder. Unlike anterograde amnesia, it is the loss of memories of past events.
selective amnesia loss of memory for a group of related events but not for other events occurring during the same period of time.
transient global amnesia a temporary episode of short-term memory loss without other neurological impairment.
traumatic amnesia post-traumatic amnesia.

dissociative amnesia

Inability to recall important personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature, that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.
Synonym: psychogenic amnesia
See also: amnesia
References in periodicals archive ?
Dissociative amnesia is the inability to recall important personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature that cannot be explained by ordinary forgetfulness, in the absence of overt brain pathology or substance use.
I did not run into fetal dissociative amnesia as I had [initially] expected.
Past examples of occasionally inappropriate therapist influence should not blind us to the healing potential of valid therapy in real cases of dissociative amnesia.
Item number 64 was a symptom of partial dissociative amnesia, whereas, items 61 and 62 could be classified as both depressive symptoms, or symptoms characterizing secondary gains.
Literary passages and modern scientific data do reveal descriptions and data, respectively, that depict dissociative amnesia as a naturally occurring traumatic sequela.
The following terms were identified as appropriate: Searching for amnesia uncovered reports under this term, but also reports listed as transient amnesia, transient global amnesia, wandering amnesia, anterograde amnesia, dissociative amnesia and retrograde amnesia.
Neural mechanisms in dissociative amnesia for childhood abuse: Relevance to the current controversy surrounding the 'False Memory Syndrome'.
The American Psychiatric Association ("APA") recognizes two different types of genuine amnesia: amnestic disorder and dissociative amnesia.
She has also been told that she suffers from unipolar depression, agitated depression, anxiety and dissociative amnesia.
In the following case study, the clinical constellation of the patient nicely illustrates that her dissociative defenses began as a Conversion Disorder and how, after a mishandling of the case by a clinician, her dissociation symptoms were instantly transformed in a typical Dissociative Amnesia Disorder.
Brain (PET and SPECT) scanning will further elucidate the neurological basis of dissociative amnesia and personality switching, and may enlighten us about the biological basis of dissociative amnesia.