Compare and Contrast Dissociative Amnesia and Dissociative Fugue

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Both dissociative amnesia and dissociative fugue are conditions which affect the memory of an individual. They are both characterized by loss or dysfunction of the memory. Dissociative amnesia is the persistent memory loss of a certain amount of personal information which does not arise due to medical shock for instance a knock on the head. It is symbolized by forgetting very important private information like a name thus should not be linked with normal forgetfulness because it is too extensive. The symptoms cause social impairment and distress in one’s occupation and other places person functions (Lewis-Hall, 2002, pp544-546).

Anxiety and repression causes dissociative amnesia when one blocks some stressful events one witnessed thus making him to forget important personal information. The DSM –IV diagnosis of exclusion is used by doctors in diagnosing dissociative amnesia. This is done by giving the patient a thorough physical examination, taking his medical history as well as a head x- ray so as to know the major cause of the memory loss. Psychotherapy is done by creating a safe environment in the doctor’s room for this helps them get back their lost memories. In cases of failure of memory return, hypnosis or a drug called sodium amytal is used (ibid, p551).

Dissociative fugue although not a common found condition, a person leaves his past life behind including home and work without prior warning or planning without precise reasons for his traveling. This state may lead to severe trauma and stress because one cannot exactly remember all the situations he finds himself in and may cause a lot of confusion. In some circumstances, a patient may assume new identities. A person does not forget for long but realizes after sometime and decides to seek help (ibid, p547). Cases of dissociative fugue are commonly linked with repression and anxiety because it can be caused by tragic experiences, shock due to a loved one’s death, work pressures; under these circumstances, a person might be very repressed and anxious thus making him or her escape those situations even if it is for a short time.

After a person shows the above symptoms, DSM- IV diagnosis criteria should be done after the person recovers from the fugue that is after seeking for help. Using the history and the reorganization of the patient’s events after, during and before his excursion, then the accurate diagnosis can be made (ibid, p551). The most effective treatment is psychotherapy whereby the patient is taken back to the stressful events that caused the fugue because this helps in remembering the past. Question; can you clearly explain the difference between dissociative amnesia and dissociative fugue?


  • Lewis-Hall Freda, 2002, Psychiatric illness in women, California, American Psychiatric Publishers

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