Fragmentation of memory

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Fragmentation of memory is a memory disorder in when an individual is unable to associate the context of the memories to their autobiographical (episodic) memory. The explicit facts and details of the events may be known to the person (semantic memory). However, the facts of the events retrieve none of the affective and somatic elements of the experience. Therefore, not allowing the emotional and personal content of the memories to become associated with the person's self.[1] Fragmentation of memory can occur for relatively recent events as well.

The impaired person usually suffers from physical damage to or underdevelopment of the hippocampus. This may be due to a genetic disorder or be the result of trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.[2] Brain dysfunction often has other related consequences, such as oversensitivity to some stimuli, impulsiveness, lack of direction in life, occasional aggressiveness, a distorted perception of oneself, and impaired ability to empathize with others, which is usually masked.

There is frequently a link between dissociative disorders and memory fragmentation. Fragmentation of memory is common in two dissociative disorders.[3]

  • Dissociative or Psychogenic Amnesia[4] is not to be confused with general amnesia, in which the sufferer is unable to recall whole periods of time, perhaps of several years' duration. In the dissociative version, there a disruption in recalling specific events, usually involving memories pertaining to the trauma itself. The disorder also relates to the person's emotional state while experiencing the trauma.[5] While the person may be able to remember the verbal details of the events, the emotional and somatosensory sensations tied to the experience break down during the processing of the memory.
  • Dissociative Fugue normally revolves around a specific journey taken by the person suffering from the disorder. They can travel great distances and have no recollection of having done so. These unremembered trips are usually the result of the individual trying to escape an unbearable situation, and many times while traveling, the person unknowingly suffers some degree of identity distortion or even assumes a completely new identity.[6] One of the unique characteristics of this disorder is that upon completing the trip, the sufferer normally remembers it and all the details associated with it, but while the events are happening, s/he has no recollection of time passing or where s/he physically is.


  1. ^ Dissociation and the fragmentary nature of traumatic memories: Overview and exploratory study. (1995).
  2. ^ Rubin, D. C. (2004). "Reliving, emotions, and fragmentation in the autobiographical memories of veterans diagnosed with PTSD.". Applied Cognitive Psychology. 18 (1): 17–35. doi:10.1002/acp.950. 
  3. ^ Barlow, David H. (2009). Abnormal Psychology: an Integrated Approach. Belmont. CA: Wadsworth Publishing. pp. 191–192. 
  4. ^ Bartram, G. (2008). "Memory, Amnesia and Identity in Hermann Broch’s Schlafwandler Trilogy". German Life & Letters. 61 (2): 215–230. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0483.2008.00420.x. 
  5. ^ Candel, I.; Merckelbach, H.; Kuijpers, M. (2003). "Dissociative experiences are related to commissions in emotional memory". Behaviour Research & Therapy. 41 (6): 719. doi:10.1016/s0005-7967(03)00016-0. 
  6. ^ van der Hart O, Bolt H, van der Kolk BA (2005). "Memory fragmentation in dissociative identity disorder". J Trauma Dissociation. 6 (1): 55–70. PMID 16150685. doi:10.1300/J229v06n01_04.