Dissociative Amnesia is a condition that impairs the person’s ability to remember important information about their own life. This may be more specific memories (thematic) or more general life history/identity (general).
There are (rarer) cases called dissociative fugue where a person may forget much if not all of their own information (their own name, their personality, their family, etc) and sometimes even leave their home and adopt an entirely new identity and start a new life.
In all cases of dissociative amnesia, your memory loss is at a significantly higher rate that would be expected as ‘normal forgetting’.
Symptoms Can Include
- Localized: The memory loss affects specific parts of the person’s life (i.e. two years during highschool, or a certain ex). Often the memory loss is connected to trauma.
- Generalized: The memory loss affects major parts of the person’s life and/or identity. They may not be able to recognize their own name, family, job, house, etc.
- Fugue: The memory loss is generalized and the person adopts an entirely new identity. For example an office worker with a family named Susan doesn’t come home one day and is reported missing. Three months later she’s discovered going under the name Barbara living across the country with a new family working in a gas station and has no recollection of her old family.
It is estimated that 1.8% of the population is diagnosed with Dissociative Amnesia.
What Causes This Disorder to Form?
Dissociative Amnesia is caused by overwhelming stress, often caused by trauma. Dissociative amnesia cases are higher in locations where there have been wars, natural accidents, or disasters. A person with Dissociative Amnesia may have experienced or witnessed something traumatic that caused them to develop the condition. There also may be some genetic component as close relatives often have a tendency to develop amnesia, although this is not solidly proven yet.
- Psychotherapy (“talk therapy”)
- CBT (Cognative-Behavioral Therapy)
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
- DBT (Dialectic-Behavior Therapy)
- Family Therapy
- Creative Therapies (music therapy, art therapy, etc)
- Clinical Hypnosis