Dissociative Fugue, also known as a fugue state, is a rare condition characterized by amnesia of personal identity, memories and personality for a short period of time (hours to days). This is not brought about by physical trauma or illness; rather, it is the result of extreme psychological stress. A fugue state includes confused or unplanned wandering and establishment of a new identity.
Symptoms of Dissociative Fugue:
- Sudden or random travel from home or work
- Inability to recall past events
- Confusion about identity or self
- Establishment of new identity
- Immense distress
- Forgetfulness of important information beyond regular forgetfulness
Causes of Dissociative Fugue
Dissociative Fugue is rare and complicated; it can come about after an immensely traumatic or psychological stressful event such as war, natural disasters, abuse, witnessing violent acts, et cetera. Dissociative Fugue is not caused by physical trauma like a blow to the head, drugs or alcohol, or any other physiological means, because it is a psychological disorder associated with mental health.
Treatment of Dissociative Fugue
Dissociative Fugue is one of four dissociative disorders, which also include Dissociative Amnesia, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Depersonalization Disorder. Dissociative Fugue’s unique feature is the tendency for affected people to suddenly and without explanation travel away from home or work. It is very important to get help for somebody in a fugue state because they could get into much worse trouble in a strange place with no way for any loved ones to know where they are. With the help of a therapist, patients have a much better chance of overcoming their fugue state and preventing more in the future. Psychotherapy, and sometimes hypnosis are effective methods for helping a person with Dissociative Fugue deal with their trauma, unbury stressful memories and cope with healing for a healthy future.
What Should You Do?
If you are feeling immensely overwhelmed following a traumatic experience, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible to prevent a fugue state or any amnesiac state. The sooner one deals with problems such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the sooner they can learn to cope and heal. If you know that a loved one is experiencing fugue states, please seek help for them immediately. Psychological help is more effective when implemented at an early stage. Simply look online or in a phone book in order to find a therapist that is within close proximity to your residence. You can also contact your regular health care provider for advice as to where to get help. Remember, the sooner the better; you don’t want your loved one traveling aimlessly, unsure of who they are, vulnerable to danger.
Links and Resources for Further Reading
- Cleveland Clinic is a great resource for information on many different psychological disorders, including Dissociative Fugue.
- The Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders has a lot of useful information about Dissociative Fugue.
- Wikipedia – Useful Wikipedia page on Dissociative Fugue, including diagnosis, symptoms, and other disorders.
- Cleveland Clinic – Cleveland Clinic’s webpage about Dissociative Fugue, including causes, treatment and prognosis.
- Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders – Extensive information on Dissociative Fugue, including resources.