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.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

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
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
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.2 It is considered to be the most common of the dissociative disorders with a prevalence ranging from 1.8% to 7.3%.
I did not run into fetal dissociative amnesia as I had [initially] expected.
2013) (explaining that the diagnostic criteria for dissociative amnesia is not attributable to neurological or medical conditions such as head injury).
Suicidality or self-injurious behavior is common among adults with dissociative amnesia, although it is not well studied in children.
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.
This "dissociative amnesia" might persist with a stressful event like a court case.
While the dissociative symptoms of dissociative amnesia, depersonalization, derealization, identity confusion, and identity alteration are front and center in the dissociative disorders (Steinberg, 2000), they can also be clues to complex traumatic stress disorders, and thereby aid in accurate diagnosis.
Washington, July 8 (ANI): Brown University political scientist Ross Cheit has challenged two Harvard University psychiatrists' claims that the controversial psychiatric disorder called dissociative amnesia, aka repressed memory, is not a natural neuropsychological phenomenon, but instead a culture-bound syndrome, dating from the nineteenth century.
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.
(7) The DSM-IV dissociative disorders are descriptive formulations: dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder), depersonalisation disorder, and a 'not otherwise specified' category that includes trance disorder, with or without possession.
In contrast, the APA defines the essential feature of dissociative amnesia (variously referred to in the literature as "psychogenic" or "functional" amnesia) as "an inability to recall important personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature, that is too extensive to be explained by normal forgetfulness." (17) Dissociative amnesia is said to arise from an event that is so traumatic or stressful, or from a period of such high arousal, that the defendant loses or fails to form any memory of the event in question.

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