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Gerald Ford November 15th, 2007 09:36 AM

Dissociative Amnesia
I am working with a client who is experiencing dissociative amnesia. He is forgetting, very selectively, those areas of life most associated with his traumata. A very demanding and judgmental mother seems to be at the base of a strong self-condemnation. He becomes highly agitated when anyone close to him expresses change, or independence, or private thoughts. (the very things that irritated his mother)
I see much at work here, his purposive behavior, his lifestyle, etc. But, I would appreciate any information I can get about treatment from an Adlerian perspective. I also would like advice on how cautious I might need to be about guiding him into new perspectives. I don't want to move too fast and trigger a dissociative fugue.

Gerald Ford

Henry Stein November 16th, 2007 10:37 AM

Re: Dissociative Amnesia
It is promising that you are viewing the cient's symptoms froma purposive perspective, and that you are aware of lifestyle dynamics. In Classical Adlerian treatment planning, before venturing to offer an opinion about treatment, we would first want to gain comprehensive views of his current situation and childhood history. After ruling out organic/medical issues, any treatment recommendations would be based primarily on an understanding of his hidden inferiorty feeling(s), fictional final goal, and scheme of apperception--and only secondarily on his symptoms. The typical questions we ask to gain a meaningful history are outlined at a guide to case presentation can be found at and an overview of the therapeutic process is at

Also, since this public forum is not a secure setting to discuss the details of a case, I am reluctant to explore additional information or comment on specific treatment strategies.

Henry Stein November 19th, 2007 02:54 PM

Re: Dissociative Amnesia
Two of the faulty web page links in the above message have been corrected and now work. I apologize for the inconvenience.

alexjoan February 27th, 2010 06:33 AM

Re: Dissociative Amnesia
The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. Localised amnesia: is present in a individual who has no memory of specific events that took place, usually traumatic. The loss of memory is localised within a specific window of time. For example, a survivor of a car wreck who has no memory of the experience until two days later is experiencing localised amnesia.

Henry Stein April 29th, 2010 11:46 AM

Re: Dissociative Amnesia
Another perspective on amnesia would be to explore which of the individual's current life tasks are being avoided, and how the symptom might facilitate that avoidance. Alfred Adler offers a provocative view of symtoms in The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler, Chapter 12, "The Dynamic Unity of Mental Disorders," pages 299-308, by Heinz and Rowena Ansbacher. Also, look at the quotes on "Safeguarding Tendency" at

kelvinwaugh May 6th, 2010 08:34 AM

Re: Dissociative Amnesia
Dissociative amnesia is amnesia caused by trauma or stress, resulting in an inability to recall important personal information.Dissociative amnesia occurs when a person blocks out certain information, usually associated with a stressful or traumatic event, leaving him or her unable to remember important personal information.Amnesia is a symptom of other medical and mental disorders; however, the patterns of amnesia are different, depending on the cause of the disorder. Amnesia associated with head trauma is typically both retrograde and anterograde.

lizap0405 May 6th, 2010 12:16 PM

Re: Dissociative Amnesia
I see your point
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George Neeson November 29th, 2010 10:46 PM

Re: Dissociative Amnesia
An Adlerian view may be that this patient is hiding his inferiority feeling or concealing a depreciating feeling, or perhaps defeating the mother by "escaping to his own self indulgent reality". There is far too little information provided to form any meaningful conclusion, save that I suspect he is applying a well rehearsed "trick" to evade his aggressive feelings and attitudes. Since he has an "illness over which he alleges no contol" he can continue an aggressive response, because, after all, it is "out of his control". Think of the "fugues" as purposive and drummed up to suit the purpose of avoiding some perceived impossiblity as a good starting place. "Fugues" don't just happen, they are carefully crafted to avoid a more useful response! The creation of psychic states is purposive barring brain injury or malformation as in seizure disorders. His concern for others (social interest) is low in this area of functioning.

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