Document Type : Case reports


1 Psychology, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

2 Public Health Oxford Brookes University Oxford UK

3 Oxford Health Foundation NHS Trust , Oxford, UK



Objective: Psychogenic or dissociative amnesia is a rare condition which involves primarily impairment in episodic autobiographical memory. Why such impairment occurs in such patients has always perplexed researchers and multiple theories have been proposed. Here we propose a novel hypothesis to explain psychogenic amnesia through a mechanism associated with impairment in ability to subjectively organise and bring memory to conscious awareness. Methods: The present paper presents a case study through careful investigation of a patient with psychogenic amnesia using extensive neuropsychological evaluation encompassing intellectual functioning, executive functions, and memory. Results: The neuropsychological findings found that the patient suffered a clear memory impairment for autobiographical memory which were more pronounced for events of the last 5 years. On tests of episodic memory, the patient showed impairment in subjective organisation in recall of the memory. The patient’s intellectual functioning and new learning were intact. Recognition memory for faces and words were also not impaired. Conclusions: We propose that patients with psychogenic amnesia may have selective difficulty in bringing materials for retrieval into their subjective awareness. Such an impairment is observed in subjective organisation of materials for memory retrieval. This case study will add to the understanding, assessment, and management of patients with psychogenic amnesia.


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