Emotion and consciousness in adolescent psychogenic amnesia

J Neuropsychol. 2007 Mar;1(1):53-64. doi: 10.1348/174866407x180819.


Psychogenic amnesia is characterized by an impaired retrieval process of stored information, while the acquisition of new information is conserved. In addition, patients with this condition may display a state of belle indifference towards their own situation and may manifest deficits in emotional processing. So far, these conditions were noted cursorily in previous case descriptions, but have not been investigated thoroughly. We report data on two female juvenile patients that were examined with neuropsychological, including remote memory tests. No impairments in cognitive or anterograde mnestic functions but, as expected, severe disturbances in remote memory tests were found. Additionally, we administered tests to assess basic and higher emotional processing functions. Both patients showed evidence of impaired higher and, though to a lesser extent, basic emotional processing skills. Finally, we discuss the contribution of (self-)consiousness, the current emotional state and emotional processing skills as possible factors, maintaining the condition of psychogenic amnesia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amnesia, Retrograde / diagnosis*
  • Amnesia, Retrograde / psychology
  • Behavioral Symptoms / diagnosis*
  • Behavioral Symptoms / psychology
  • Consciousness*
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis
  • Conversion Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Illness Behavior
  • Life Change Events
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Personal Construct Theory
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Social Behavior