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Dissociative Fugue

Dissociative Fugue is disorder in which one or more episodes of amnesia occur with sudden, unexpected, purposeful travel away from home. A fugue state may last from hours to weeks or months, and the individual may travel far from home and begin a new job with a new identity, unaware of any change in his life. During the fugue, the individual may appear normal to those around him and attract no notice, and may only come to the attention of medical or legal authorities when he becomes aware of the memory loss or becomes confused about his identity.

Dissociative fugue occurs spontaneously and affects approximately 0.2 percent of the population. It is more common in individuals who have experienced trauma, such as war, accidents, or natural disasters. Other, more common, life stressors may also trigger a fugue state, such as marital problems, financial difficulties, or legal issues.

Diagnostic Criteria for Dissociative Fugue:

A. The predominant disturbance is sudden, unexpected travel away from home or one's customary place of work, with inability to recall one's past.

B. Confusion about personal identity or assumption of a new identity (partial or complete).

C. The disturbance does not occur exclusively during the course of Dissociative Identity Disorder and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., temporal lobe epilepsy).

D. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Symptoms of Dissociative Fugue:

Often an individual in a fugue state has no symptoms or is only mildly confused during the episode. Symptoms such as depression, discomfort, grief, shame, and suicidal ideation often appear when the fugue ends.

Dissociative fugue may be suspected when an individual seems confused about his identity or is puzzled about his past, but often cannot be diagnosed until after the individual returns to his pre-fugue identity and seeks help due to distress caused by finding himself in completely unfamiliar circumstances.

Treatment of Dissociative Fugue:

Treatment for Dissociative Fugue may include the use of psychotherapy, hypnosis or drug-facilitated interviews, however most fugues states last for a period of time and then disappear on their own without treatment.

Efforts to restore memories of the fugue period are often unsuccessful, and a therapist may concentrate on helping the individual by encouraging him to discover healthier ways of dealing with the types of situations and conflicts that triggered the fugue episode to prevent subsequent fugue behavior.


All information contained in this web site is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your medical doctor or psychiatrist.
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This Site Updated 04/09/11