Send to

Choose Destination
Rev Neurol (Paris). 2017 Jul - Aug;173(7-8):516-520. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2017.07.007. Epub 2017 Aug 30.

Dissociative amnesia: Disproportionate retrograde amnesia, stressful experiences and neurological circumstances.

Author information

Laboratory EMC, EA3082, university Lyon-2, 5, avenue Pierre-Mendès, 69676 Bron cedex, France; Plein-Ciel, 75, rue Bataille, 69008 Lyon, France. Electronic address:


Dissociative amnesias have been reported in neurological episodes mild enough to not cause any visible lesions on morphological examination. Disproportionate retrograde amnesia with or without identity loss happens in the context of psychological trauma (known or not). In metabolic imaging studies, some authors have reported functional alterations, particularly in the bilateral hippocampus, right temporal regions and inferolateral prefrontal cortex, despite normal morphological imaging. To avoid the presumption of an organic, psychogenic or mixed origin for such changes, De Renzi et al. suggested the term 'functional amnesia' to describe the condition. Patients have sometimes recovered during events similar to those preceding the amnesia in either a spectacular fashion or never. Also, in some cases, distraction or sedation may trigger the start of recovery. During psychotherapy, one patient remembered seeing a car on fire when he was a boy, and his amnesia started when his house was on fire. This suggests control by the frontal cortex, with repression blocking amnesic traces in the new emotional and biological context.


Dissociative amnesia; Functional amnesia; Identity; Retrograde amnesia; Stressful events

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Masson (France)
Loading ...
Support Center