All About Dissociative Amnesia

Dissociative amnesia is a disorder that blocks out significant information from a person’s subconscious. The condition is usually caused by a traumatic event or experience in life. It could be from emotional abuse, physical damage, or mental torture. It leaves the person with no recollection of some (or all) essential things or events in his or her life.

Memory systems cannot integrate the information so it floats around and issues into waking consciousness in disconnected fragments like false stories, false memories, illusions, delusions and finally false identities. — Patrick McNamara Ph.D.


If the patient is suffering from the symptoms of dissociative amnesia, the doctor proceeds to gather the medical history. But if there are no alarming physical signs of the condition, they will refer the patient to a mental health expert for the clinical interview. In the medical field, the disease is commonly caused by overwhelming physiological stress. The stress is usually from a significant traumatic event such as abuse, violence, and natural disaster. However, genetics also play a role as well. It is most common in women than in men and affects almost 3.6% of the general population.

The Different Types Of Dissociative Amnesia

  1. Generalized Amnesia – It is a condition where a person is incapable of remembering partial information. Usually, it is caused by phenomena of psychogenic origins. Fortunately, it is one of most common types that eventually get treated with therapy and medication. The psychological condition requires spontaneous recovery in a comparatively short period.
  2. Localized Amnesia – It is the type of amnesia that affects a person’s knowledge. It sometimes makes a person lose his ability to speak, read, and walk. In some unfortunate events, it hits the person’s overall skills as well as give him the confusion of who he was or where he’s at. Localized amnesia is said to cause anxiety and depression due to the scattered details of memory that the brain forces to recover.
  3. Fugue Amnesia – It a type of amnesia that makes a person adopts a new identity. In some unfortunate events, the condition shuts down the brain’s active memory to make a person forget about his past and other essential personal information. From there, the mixture of different emotions, behaviors, and mental approach varies widely on the person’s capability to recall.

Don’t try to just shove your feelings down because that just doesn’t work long-term. — Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.


Other Types Of Amnesia

  • Retrograde Amnesia – The condition is far worse compared to the different types of amnesia. It is where a person is incapable of remembering anything from the past. Though this type of amnesia is sometimes temporary, the recovery takes an extended period due to the brain’s dysfunctional attributes. This condition is merely caused by emotional trauma, brain damage, and extreme head injury.
  • Anterograde Amnesia – Unlike retrograde, anterograde amnesia differs because of the ability to contain bits of memories from a particular event. Though this condition can able to recall pre-existing long-term memories, it is not capable of constructing new long-term explicit ones. Meaning, even if there’s a repetitive everyday experience, the person won’t recall the recent ones.

Anterograde amnesia is typically caused by some kind of brain damage, most often to the hippocampus region (a portion of the brain at least partially responsible for the storage of memory). — Wind Goodfriend Ph.D.


Dissociative amnesia still contains memory. However, it is buried deep in a person’s mind that they experience problems in retrieving them. The good thing is, memories can comeback suddenly by the use of therapy or by the help of triggering factors from the environment.