Dissociative amnesia is a condition in which a person cannot remember important information about their life. This forgetting may be limited to certain specific areas (thematic), or may include much of the person’s life history and/or identity (general).Dissociative amnesia is rare; it affects about 1% of men and 2.6% of women in the general population. The environment also plays a role. Rates of dissociative amnesia tend to increase after natural disasters and during waThere are three types, or patterns, of dissociative amnesia:
Memory loss affects specific areas of knowledge or parts of a person’s life, such as a certain period during childhood, or anything about a friend or coworker. Often the memory loss focuses on a specific trauma. For example, a crime victim may have no memory of being robbed at gunpoint, but can recall details from the rest of that day.
Memory loss affects major parts of a person’s life and/or identity, such as a being unable to recognize your name, job, family and friends.Dissociative Fugue
Although it’s rare due to extreme psychological trauma, an individual can experience major disturbance in memory. Dissociative fugue is most commonly experienced by people suffering from dissociative identity disorder. This is less likely but possible to affect people suffering from Dissociative Amnesia. In a dissociative fugue, the memory of an individual is impacted to the extent that they forget about their daily activities, and who they are, suddenly travel away from home, and assume a new identity. Essentially, they start a new life altogether.So, when they take on a brand-new identity, they also engage in new relationships and occupations (things they have never done before) and live a completely different life. They may appear fully conscious and alert, just like anyone else but they claim to remember absolutely nothing about the things that happened during the episode. They feel confused, could also be wandering around aimlessly, and experience indifference and dissociation from their emotions.Fugue episodes are temporary and can last for a couple of days, weeks, or even months. In some cases, individuals have found themselves miles and miles away from home but they don’t know how they got there, what they were doing the whole time, why they were at that specific location, doing specific things, living a whole other life, what events had taken place during that time. They don’t remember anything. They would even be unable to recognize the people they already know and love.It is possible for them to recover their memories of their previous identities but only after the fugue episode ends. Memories can be either restored fully and suddenly or can even take time and make a gradual return. After this, they usually seek help from a mental health professional to understand what happened and avail treatment for the same. Extreme, overwhelming stress and psychological trauma can trigger a person and have them experience an episode of dissociative fugue. This stress and trauma can be caused by natural disasters (eg. floods), man-made disasters (eg. war), grief and loss, personal/ interpersonal stressors, financial problems, substance abuse, physical/ emotional/ sexual abuse, etc.It is important to note that all of these actions are abrupt and unplanned. Fugue episodes often take place either during adolescence or early adulthood. Fugue episodes may start while an individual is asleep or is sometimes also linked with a severe lack of sleep.With dissociative fugue, the person has generalized amnesia and adopts a new identity. For example, one middle manager was passed over for promotion. He did not come home from work and was reported as missing by his family. He was found a week later, 600 miles away, living under a different name, working as a short-order cook. When found by the police, he could not recognize any family member, friend or coworker, and he could not say who he was or explain his lack of identification.The goals of treatment for dissociation are to relieve symptoms, make sure the patient and those around them are safe, and “reconnect” the person with their lost memories. Treatment also aims to help the person:Safely deal with and manage painful events.Develop new coping skills and life skills.Get back to functioning as well as possible.Improve relationships.The best treatment approach depends on the person, the type of dissociation and how severe the symptoms are.