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memory problems - amnesias

Dear All,

I am a researcher from Germany. I am currently running a neuroimaging study on DPD. In this context, I have the privilege to interview a larger number of persons suffering from DPD. While I try to stick to the published criteria (DSM-IV-TR), something keeps puzzling me:
I have now encountered a number of very intelligent and knowledgeable people who seem to have an amnesia for their very recent past. Typically, they report that they can remember what they did the day before (with difficulty, but successfully), but anything before that is in a daze. They often do remember special days (birthdays, new years etc.), but it seems that 99% of their personal lives disappear in some kind of fog. According to diagnostic criteria, amnesia is not part of DPD and might instead indicate a different dissociative disorder (like DESNOS or DIS). However, in my experience, in these few individuals it seems to be an integral part of DPD. Can anybody comment on this? Thanks, Judith

Re: memory problems - amnesias

I think the memory issues in DPD patients is most likely some aspect of an attentional deficit. Perhaps nonstop preoccupation with the self, or the condition afflicting it, conflicts with memories as they are being formed. Some discussion of possible cortical misconnections is included in Feeling Unreal and Stranger to My Self and may also play a role in what you have discovered. It will be interesting to see if anyone else has some comments/observations about this.

Re: memory problems - amnesias

Dear Jeff,

Thanks for your comment. I have read both your books on DPD and found them immensely helpful and enlightening. I am also under the impression that these memory problems might result from more superficial encoding. By that I mean that maybe because the person feels so disconnected and emotionally numb while things happen, the memories aren't processed as deep. They would carry a lot less emotional connotations and are therefore less easy to remember. But according to the official view, amnesias are not present in DPD. Am I confusing things? Would D-peolpe think that these symptoms are beyond what is typically experienced in DPD?
Thank you all for your insights, Judith

Re: memory problems - amnesias

I think what you are saying is correct. The initial coding and subsequent processing may be problematic. This is, of course, different than losing blocks of time, as seen in dissociative fugue. It probably all comes down to semantics, or a difference between memory loss and slight memory lapses, or failure to record something properly in the initial mental processing stage.

Re: memory problems - amnesias

Although I have never been diagnosed with DPD and I had no idea there was a name for this disorder until a few months ago, I have had it for 25 or 26 years, hitting me when I was in my mid twenties...I am now 51 years old, female.

I too experience amnesia exactly as you described in your post here. It's gotten worse as I've aged.

I would love to participate in any clinical trials/questionnaires/treatments that are out there...I'm desperate for help.

I found the website recently and can relate to most all of Sandy's symptoms.

I would appreciate any help/info you can pass along.


Re: memory problems - amnesias

Sandy is a good friend and her website is great. But her particular story may go beyond the realm of DPD exclusively. She would be the first to tell you this. I suggest you converse with her directly and see what info you might share.

Re: memory problems - amnesias

Having a poor memory is one of my biggest complaints, and I think it is connected to the disorder somehow. I agree that at least for me it is both because I'm a little ADD (trouble staying focused, not completing tasks, needing structure, spacing out) and because when I'm more out of it, things don't stick--I emotionally never processed them. Right now I am usually out of it when I'm stressed or anxious, which probably in and of itself makes me more forgetful too. I have a really difficult time at work trying to multitask--as a manager in a busy retail store, it's just part of the job to be able to multitask and to be constantly interrupted from what you're doing. I've gotten better at carrying sticky notes with me in my pocket, and asking other people to remind me, but it's embarrassing and extremely frustrating. Sometimes it's so bad that I feel like I should be the one managed and not managing.