A Critical Review of Case Studies on Dissociative Amnesia

Ivan Mangiulli*, Henry Otgaar, Marko Jelicic, Harald Merckelbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Dissociative amnesia, defined as an inability to remember important autobiographical experiences, usually of a stressful nature, is a controversial phenomenon. We systematically reviewed 128 case studies of dissociative amnesia reported in 60 articles that appeared in peer-reviewed journals in English over the past 20 years (2000-2020). Our aim was to examine to what extent these cases met core features of dissociative amnesia. All cases were about reports of autobiographical memory loss, but the evidence offered in support of a dissociative amnesia interpretation was often weak and plagued by an ambiguous heterogeneity with respect to nature, etiology, and differential diagnoses of alleged memory loss. Most case studies failed to rule out plausible alternative explanations of dissociative amnesia, such as ordinary forgetting and malingering. We encourage clinicians and researchers to more critically investigate alleged cases of dissociative amnesia and provide criteria for how a dissociative amnesia case ideally would look like.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-211
Number of pages21
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume10
Issue number2
Early online date8 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • dissociative amnesia
  • organic amnesia
  • trauma
  • ordinary forgetting
  • malingering
  • FUNCTIONAL RETROGRADE-AMNESIA
  • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
  • MEMORY MALINGERING TOMM
  • CHILD SEXUAL-ABUSE
  • ASSISTED INTERVIEWS
  • COGNITIVELY INTACT
  • NORMATIVE DATA
  • TRAUMA
  • JUDGMENTS
  • MODEL

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