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Five Types Of Amnesia Linked To Childhood Trauma


I have written elsewhere in other articles that I have published on this site that I can remember virtually nothing of my life prior to the age of about eight years old and this clearly constitutes a form of amnesia.

Indeed, five types of amnesia have been identified that can occur as a result of severe childhood trauma. These are as follows:






Let’s briefly look at each of these forms of amnesia in turn:


1) Localized amnesia: this refers to memory loss for a defined period of time (normally at the beginning of the trauma); this type of amnesia seems to apply to my own type

2) Selective amnesia: this type of memory loss is said to occur when an individual is unable to recall specific aspects of his/her traumatic experience (often the most psychologically distressing aspects)

3) Generalized amnesia: this type of amnesia involves the person being unable to recall the whole of their lives. It is usually reversible and of short duration, perhaps lasting just hours or a few days. However, it can endure for months. The sufferer becomes lost in a fog of confusion, disorientation and bewilderment.

It is also sometimes referred to as a fugue state. The crime writer Agatha Christie reputedly once suffered from this.

4) Continuous amnesia: a person afflicted by this type of memory loss is unable to recall events starting from a specific point in time up to the present.

5) Systemized amnesia:: this fifth type of amnesia stemming from childhood trauma results in the affected individual not being able to remember experiences involving a specific other people.

Co-morbid Conditions:

Psychological conditions that frequently run alongside (exist co-morbidly with) child trauma-related amnesia include :


– severe depression

– dissociation

– regressive behaviour and feelings (acting and feeling like an adolescent, child or even infant)

Other Associated Cognitive Impairments :

Along with disrupted memory, affected individuals often show signs of other cognitive impairment, including:

– impaired attention/concentration

– impaired learning ability

– impaired judgment

– impaired ability to plan for the future

Furthermore, the person may feel emotionally numb, dead and empty, as if living life as an automaton.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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