dissociative amnesia; retrograde amnesia; dissociative fugue; dissociative disorder diagnosis; treatment


Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry


Dissociative amnesia is a rare psychiatric disorder presenting with sudden retrograde memory impairment and inability to recall autobiographical information that is inconsistent with normal forgetting. This case report discusses dissociative amnesia with dissociative fugue in a middle aged male that led to him becoming homeless. Because of his autobiographical forgetting, he was unable to access services, and we present here the distinctive “detective work” needed to not only help treat his symptoms, but also help him legally establish who he is and gain access to housing. This patient is unique in that he only began psychiatric treatment in his late 40s. His diagnostic picture is complicated due to a history of autism spectrum disorder, emotional trauma and memory impairment with difficulty recalling autobiographical memory. There is a temporal relationship between multiple traumatic events and his subsequent dissociation and amnesia, which could have unconsciously protected him from more stress and stabilized his symptoms of depression and anxiety.