amnesia (also called functional amnesia) is a form of amnesia
which occurs in otherwise healthy people -- i.e., it is not
the result of a brain injury. It involves loss of important
personal information. Another term for this condition is functional
In one form of psychogenic amnesia, called
fugue state, individuals may forget not only their pasts but
their very identities. Despite the many Hollywood movies depicting
this phenomenon, fugue state is extremely rare in real life.
Fugue state normally resolves with time, particularly with
the help of therapy.
A more common form of psychogenic amnesia
is dissociative amnesia. In this state, an individual may
experience memory loss which is restricted to a particular
period of time, such as the duration of a violent crime. This
memory loss is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetting,
and instead may reflect the fact that the information is too
stressful or traumatic to be remembered. Dissociative amnesia
is a psychological phenomenon, rather than a physiological
one, and may often be resolved with the help of therapy.
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain