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What Is Dissociative Amnesia In Psychology

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Diagnosis Of Dissociative Amnesia

Dissociative Amnesia Example, DSM-5-TR Video, Clinical Psychology Case
  • Clinical criteria

The diagnosis of dissociative amnesia is clinical, based on the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition:

  • Patients cannot recall important personal information that would not normally be lost with ordinary forgetting.
  • Symptoms cause significant distress or significantly affect social or occupational functioning.

Also, symptoms cannot be better explained by the ug or other disorders .

The diagnosis requires a medical and psychiatric examination to rule out other possible causes. The initial evaluation should include

  • Magnetic resonance imaging to rule out structural causes.
  • EEG to rule out a seizure disorder.
  • Blood and urine tests to rule out toxic causes, such as illicit drug use.
  • Can psychological tests help to bto characterize the nature of dissociative experiences better if dissociative amnesia is treated?

The goal treatment goals are to relieve symptoms, ensure that the patient and those around him are safe, and reconnect the person with lost memories. Treatment also aims to help the person:

  • Confidently cope with and handle painful events.
  • Develop new coping skills and life skills.
  • Get back to work as well as possible and
  • Improve relationships.

The best treatment approach depends on the person, the type of amnesia, and the severity of the symptoms. Treatment will most likely include some combination of the following methods:

How Do Dissociative Disorders Develop

A pattern of abuse or trauma is one way for an isolated incident of dissociation to shift into a disorder, as dissociation becomes habitual, reinforced, and conditioned with every episode. The person may eventually dissociate automatically when a particular environmental cue or event is similar to a previous traumatic event, such as in the case of repeated parental abuse.

Treatment For Dissociative Amnesia

Treatment for dissociative amnesia focuses on helping a person with the condition recover their memories which often entails assisting them in dealing with the negative impacts of experiencing or witnessing the traumatic events that brought on the amnesia.

Its believed that with the proper treatment, your recall for your memories will likely come back on their own. Treatment for this condition typically depends on the nature and severity of your symptoms and the presence of co-occurring conditions.

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Scores On Autobiographical Memory Tests

AMI data were available for 28 patients during their psychogenic amnesia episode and 19 patients at follow-up. Ten patients with psychogenic amnesia were assessed both during and after the acute amnesic phase, 18 only during the amnesic episode, and nine were first seen after the acute episode. Data were available for only one patient with memory gaps, who was excluded from these analyses.

Personal semantic facts

A shows that fugue patients performed poorly across all time periods during the amnesic episode, producing a flat temporal gradient, contrary to theories of preserved semantic memory and an episodic/semantic dissociation in fugue . By contrast, the two FRA groups showed a reversed temporal gradient, performing much better for recent than earlier memories. A mixed model ANOVA gave a significant main effect of group with Sidak-adjusted paired comparisons showing that the Fugue and both FRA groups were significantly impaired compared with controls . There was also a significant group × time period interaction , and further analysis of this interaction revealed that both Fugue-to-FRA and FRA groups showed significant time period effects, consistent with reversed temporal gradients. There were no significant time period effects in controls or Fugue patients , consistent with the flat gradients across time period, observed in these groups.

Personal semantic memory during the amnesic episode and at follow-up .

Autobiographical episodes

Can Dissociative Amnesia Be Prevented

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Although it may not be possible to prevent dissociative amnesia, it might be helpful to begin treatment in people as soon as they begin to have symptoms. Immediate intervention after a traumatic event or emotionally distressing experience can help to reduce the likelihood of dissociative disorders.

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Which Techniques Can Help Treat Dissociative Identity Disorder

Healing from dissociative identity disorder is a complex process, and certain techniques can be more helpful than others. In one womans experience with dissociation, six therapeutic tools proved most valuable: building trust between therapist and patient, responding non-defensively, flexible facing, exploring hypnosis to face traumatic memories without their full force, illustrating the healing process through stories, and asking the patient before addressing different personality states.

How Is Dissociative Amnesia Diagnosed

If a patient has symptoms of dissociative amnesia, the doctor will perform a complete medical history and physical examination. Although there are no laboratory tests to diagnose dissociative disorders, the doctor might use blood tests or imaging to make sure the patient doesnt have a physical illness or side effects from a medication.

If the person doesnt have a physical illness, they might be referred to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychiatric social worker. This caregiver performs a clinical interview to get a full picture of the persons experiences and current functioning. Some psychiatrists and psychologists may use specialized tests or a standard interview such as the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociation .

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What Is Dissociative Amnesia

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 , or may include much of the persons life history and/or identity .

In some rare cases called dissociative fugue, the person may forget most or all of their personal information , and may sometimes even travel to a different location and adopt a completely new identity. In all cases of dissociative amnesia, the person has a much greater memory loss than would be expected in the course of normal forgetting.

Dissociative amnesia is one of a group of conditions called dissociative disorders. Dissociative disorders are mental illnesses in which there is a breakdown of mental functions that normally operate smoothly, such as memory, consciousness or awareness, and identity and/or perception.

Dissociative symptoms can be mild, but they can also be so severe that they keep the person from being able to function. They can also affect relationships and work activities.

Symptoms Of A Dissociative Disorder

Dissociative Amnesia â Psychiatry | Lecturio

Symptoms of dissociative disorder can vary but may include:

  • feeling disconnected from yourself and the world around you
  • forgetting about certain time periods, events and personal information
  • feeling uncertain about who you are
  • having multiple distinct identities
  • feeling little or no physical pain

Dissociation is a way the mind copes with too much stress.

Periods of dissociation can last for a relatively short time or for much longer .

It can sometimes last for years, but usually if a person has other dissociative disorders.

Many people with a dissociative disorder have had a traumatic event during childhood.

They may dissociate and avoid dealing with it as a way of coping with it.

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How Dissociative Amnesia Is Diagnosed

If you or someone you know is displaying symptoms of dissociative amnesia, its crucial to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider to get a definite diagnosis.

For a diagnosis to be made, your doctor will look into your medical history and carry out a physical examination. While there is no medical test that can help identify dissociative amnesia, some medical tests like X-rays and bloodwork will be carried out to rule out other causes of amnesia, such as brain injury or side effects of an illegal substance or drug.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition , the following criteria must be met for a diagnosis of dissociative amnesia to be made:

  • Not just forgetting, but being unable to recall important personal information
  • Being significantly distressed or impaired by the memory loss
  • The memory loss isnt a result of drug use, a neurological or medical condition, or another psychiatric disorder

How Does Memory Work

There are three known types of memory:

  • Short-term memory â these are thoughts that are temporary, usually lasting between 10-30 seconds. The frontal and parietal lobes of the brain are mostly responsible for STM.

  • Long-term memory â thoughts that last beyond a minute or longer becomes an LTM. This is usually when the STM has been paid attention to so it can be processed deeper. The hippocampus and the temporal lobes are responsible for LTM. There are two types of LTM: implicit and explicit .

  • Sensory memory â this type of memory lasts for less than a second. This includes visual, auditory, and tactile sensory input that is briefly attended to and mostly forgotten or is passed on for further processing.

There are four processes involved in memory: encoding, consolidation, storage, and retrieval. All of these processes determine whether something is remembered or forgotten:

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If You’re Feeling Suicidal

If you have thoughts about taking your life, it’s important you ask someone for help.

It’s probably difficult for you to see it at this time, but you’re not alone or beyond help.

There are people you can talk to who want to help:

  • speak to a friend, family member or someone you trust, as they may be able to help you calm down and find some breathing space
  • call the Samaritans free 24-hour support service on 116 123
  • go to your nearest A& E and tell the staff how you’re feeling

Cannot Be Explained By Another Condition

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Many times, memory loss can be explained by another medical condition. However in people with DA, memory loss cannot be explained by other conditions, such as brain injury, stroke, or use of alcohol or drugs.

DA is linked to traumatic or intensely stressful events. Examples can include things like:

  • being in combat during a war
  • experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • being the victim of a crime or seeing a crime being committed
  • going through a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane
  • undergoing severe stress related to relationships, finances, or your job.

There are several thoughts regarding why these events can lead to DA. Its likely that a complex combination of them play a role in the development of the condition:

  • DA results from the brains attempts to cope with or protect you from painful memories by dissociating itself from a traumatic experience.
  • The stress from traumatic events interferes with your brains ability to retrieve personal memories related to that time.
  • Some studies have
  • To diagnose DA, a doctor will first take a thorough medical history and perform a physical examination. This can help them to rule out other causes of amnesia, such as:

    • effects of drugs and alcohol

    If a physical cause of amnesia can be ruled out, youll be referred to a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is someone who is trained to identify and diagnose various mental illnesses.

    The goals of DA treatment include:

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    Treatment And Prognosis Of Dissociative Amnesia

    The main type of treatment used to help someone restore memories and cope more healthfully with trauma is therapy. There are no medications approved for treating amnesia. Therapies may vary depending on the needs of the patient, but the general goals are to restore memories, to process and manage emotions related to trauma, to develop healthy coping skills, and to improve overall life functioning. Some types of therapy and treatment strategies used to meet these goals are:

    The prognosis for dissociative amnesia is generally positive with treatment. Most people who seek out treatment will recover their memories. They may come back suddenly or gradually over a long period of time. In rare cases a person will never have their memories restored, but treatment can help improve function and address any other mental health issues.

    Child Vs Adult Presentation

    • Dissociative Amnesia is more common among young adults than in older adults but can occur at any age past infancy. It is difficult to assess in preadolescent children, as it may be confused with inattention, anxiety, psychosis, oppositional behavior, or developmentally appropriate childhood amnesia.
    • Gender and cultural differences in presentation.
    • Dissociative Amnesia is more common among women than men.

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    Scores On Anterograde Memory Tests

    shows mean scores on verbal and visual recall and recognition memory for each psychogenic subgroup , neurological patients, and controls. Separate one-way ANOVAs showed a significant difference only on visual recall memory , attributable on post hoc tests to the difference between controls and neurology patients .

    also shows anterograde memory index scores for 38 patients tested during the acute amnesic episode, and for 20 patients tested after the acute episode scores are collapsed across the psychogenic groups. Across each memory domain scores were higher in the follow-up phase than during the acute amnesic episode. For the 13 patients who were tested both during and after the amnesic episode, verbal recall scores were significantly higher at follow-up than during the acute episode . However, the differences for the other domains did not reach statistical significance . For the remaining participants, tested during or after the acute episode, verbal recall memory was again significantly higher for patients tested at follow-up compared with those tested during the acute episode with no significant differences across the other measures .

    How Is Dissociative Amnesia Treated

    Dissociative Disorders: Dissociative Amnesia, Fugue, Identity Disorder Depersonalization|Psychology

    The goals of treatment for dissociative amnesia 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 amnesia and how severe the symptoms are. Treatment most likely includes some combination of the following methods:

    People with dissociative amnesia usually respond well to treatment. But progress and success depend on many things, including the persons life situation and if they have support from family and friends.

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    Types Of Dissociative Amnesia

    Dissociative amnesia is a dissociative disorder. Dissociative disorders are a type of mental illness. Theyre characterized by disconnect between things like your memories, identity, and surroundings.

    If you have a dissociative disorder you may feel disconnected from the world that surrounds you. Periods of dissociation can last for hours or days and in some cases can last longer for weeks or months.

    There are a few different types of DA:

    • Localized. This is where you cannot remember events from a specific time period.
    • Generalized. This is a complete loss of memory, including things like identity and life history. Its very rare.
    • Fugue. In dissociative fugue you forget most or all of your personal information and may wander or travel to places you wouldnt usually go. In longer-lasting cases, you may even take on a whole new identity.

    DA can be characterized by the following:

    What Does Dissociation Look Like In Children

    Children who suffer from dissociation often display symptoms that can be misinterpreted. Kids with dissociative disorders are prone to trance states or blackouts, where they become unresponsive or has a lapse in attention. They may also stare at nothing, forget parts of their life or what they were doing moments ago, or act as if they just woke up in response to being called to attention. Coupled with sudden changes in activity levels , these symptoms are often misinterpreted as ADHD or Bipolar Disorder.

    Dissociative symptoms like dramatic, abnormal changes in mood, personality, or age, acting in socially inappropriate ways, or insisting on being called by another name can lead to misdiagnoses of psychotic or behavioral disorders.

    Underlying all of these symptoms is a tendency for the child to separate parts of themselves, or fragment. This fragmentation is often the result of experienced trauma, which, for children, is often abuse or neglect in the home.

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    Subtypes Of Dissociative Amnesia

    Subtypes of dissociative amnesia include:

    • Generalized amnesia occurs when a person loses memory across areas of their life. For instance, they may not be able to recall information about their identity or significant life events. This type of amnesia is rare.
    • Localized amnesia is the inability to remember specific periods of time. Memory loss may be related to a period when a stressful or traumatic event occurred. This form of amnesia is more common than the other subtypes.
    • Selective amnesia occurs when an individual loses some information related to a person, period, or event. As a result, they may remember some details but not others.
    • Dissociative fugue is a severe form of dissociative amnesia. It involves the inability to recall important information or details. However, in addition to memory loss, a person may wander or travel to another location and sometimes assume a new identity.

    What Is The Outlook For People With Dissociative Amnesia

    35. Butterflies and Rabbit Holes

    The outlook for people with dissociative amnesia depends on several factors, including the person’s life situation, the availability of support systems, and the individual’s response to treatment. For most people with dissociative amnesia, memory returns with time, making the overall outlook very good.

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    What Does It Feel Like To Dissociate

    Depersonalization refers to feeling severed or alienated from your body. Individuals who experience depersonalization often report not recognizing themselves in a mirror, feeling like their body is not their own, or even being temporarily unable to talk. Its the ultimate out of body experience. For many, theres a sense of emotional numbing as wellfeeling meh about things that should be emotionally intense.

    Derealization is feeling isolated from your surroundings, like being in the middle of a crowded party and feeling like youre just vaguely watching it on TV. People will often say the world looks fake, or that they are seeing it through a veil. Some say that the world loses color.

    Naturally, dissociating often feels scary, especially if the experience feels profound and uncontrollable.

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