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:
– LOCALIZED AMNESIA
– SELECTIVE AMNESIA
– GENERALIZED AMNESIA
– CONTINUOUS AMNESIA
– SYSTEMIZED AMNESIA
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 person.
Psychological conditions that frequently run alongside (exist co-morbidly with) child trauma related amnesia include :
– severe depression
– 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).