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About Dissociative Fugue

Postby Butterfly Faerie » Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:15 pm

Dissociative fugue involves one or more episodes of sudden, unexpected, but purposeful travel from home during which people cannot remember some or all of their past life, including who they are (their identity). These episodes are called fugues.

Unbearable stress or a traumatic event may trigger dissociative fugue.
When in a fugue, people disappear from their usual routine and may assume a new identity, forgetting all or some of their usual life.
Usually, doctors make the diagnosis by reviewing the history and collecting information about the circumstances before travel, the travel itself, and the establishment of an alternate life.
Usually, fugues last only hours or days, then resolve on their own.
Memory retrieval techniques, including hypnosis and drug-facilitated interviews, may be tried but may be unsuccessful.

Dissociative fugue affects about 2 of 1,000 people in the United States. It is much more common among people who have been in wars, accidents, or natural disasters.


Dissociative fugue is usually triggered by severe trauma, such as wars, accidents, natural disasters, or sexual abuse during childhood.

Dissociative fugue is often mistaken for malingering because both conditions may give people an excuse to avoid their responsibilities (as in an intolerable marriage), to avoid accountability for their actions, or to reduce their exposure to a known hazard, such as a battle. However, dissociative fugue, unlike malingering, occurs spontaneously and is not faked.

Many fugues seem to represent disguised wish fulfillment (for example, an escape from overwhelming stresses, such as divorce or financial ruin). Other fugues are related to feelings of rejection or separation, or they may develop as an alternative to suicidal or homicidal impulses.


A fugue may last from hours to weeks, months, or occasionally even longer. People in a fugue state, having lost their customary identity, usually disappear from their usual haunts, leaving their family and job. If the fugue is brief, they may appear simply to have missed some work or come home late. If the fugue lasts several days or longer, people may travel far from home and begin a new job with a new identity, unaware of any change in their life.

During the fugue, they may appear normal and attract no attention. However, at some point, they may become aware of the memory loss or confused about their identity. If they are confused, they may come to the attention of medical or legal authorities. During the fugue, people often have no symptoms or are only mildly confused. However, when the fugue ends, they may experience depression, discomfort, grief, shame, intense conflict, and suicidal or aggressive impulses.


A doctor may suspect dissociative fugue when people seem confused about their identity or are puzzled about their past or when confrontations challenge their new identity or absence of one. The doctor carefully reviews symptoms and does a physical examination to exclude physical disorders that may contribute to or cause memory loss. A psychologic examination is also done.

Sometimes dissociative fugue cannot be diagnosed until people abruptly return to their pre-fugue identity and are distressed to find themselves in unfamiliar circumstances. The diagnosis is usually made retroactively when a doctor reviews the history and collects information that documents the circumstances before people left home, the travel itself, and the establishment of an alternate life.


Most fugues last for hours or days, then disappear on their own.

Treatment, when needed, may include hypnosis or drug-facilitated interviews (interviews conducted after a sedative is given intravenously to relax people). However, efforts to restore memories of what happened during the fugue itself are usually unsuccessful.

A therapist may help people explore their patterns of handling the types of situations, conflicts, and moods that triggered the fugue to prevent subsequent fugues

Did You Know...
Dissociative fugue is often mistaken for malingering because it enables people to escape their responsibilities or undesirable or dangerous situations, such as a bad marriage or a battle.

Website http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec07/ch106/ch106d.html
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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby yeh- » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:35 am

I first posted about four years ago in here, i did not had a 'dissociative fugue'. i just want to mention that ever since i feel like somehow my 'identity' shattered and though i'm planning on go on, i must say that it's been very difficult. the 'unberable stress' in the criteria is accurate. i would go as far as to say that every 'mental illness' is caused by stress. regards. (and thank you very much).
life certainly goes on. even though time can take away things from us, is there to helps us. thank you very much.
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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby heraclitus » Sun Apr 11, 2010 1:14 am

I had lost my dad when I was 3. He died in a car accident. My mom was left with three children and often spoke about how it would have been better for her if we were dead. She repeatedly told us it was our fault she could not remarry and have a life. She talked about the "alice crimmins case" all the time while I was young. It was a famous tv news case of a young women (1965 NYC)who was charged with suffocating her two children. She was found innocent and most likely was. After the trial she remarried a very rich man and disappeared to begin a new life. My mom saw this story as a fairy tale.
I left home at 20 and never returned, was it because I feared that I would be Killed? I don't know. I know I had to get away and I feared ever being found.
I started having fugues at 40. I learned through analysis that I grew up fearing that i would some day be suffocated, that to free my mother so she could be happy, and gain my mother's love I would have to be dead. It seems that these fugues were a way of dying, of disappearing. This happened when I got close to someone when I was older and the relationship grew and she started to like how I would give myself almost to the point of self loss. I think I began to follow the path of my childhood. To show i cared I began to disappear.
After a while these events morphed into seizures and I had seizure surgery which stopped them. Was it always seizures, maybe, but I can't help but think there is a mind body relationship. Menninger the pychiatrist once said that seizures were a form of psydu-suicide, a type of electric shock treatment to save the individiual from full pychosis. food for thought.
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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby superman1000 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:27 pm

i underwent a fugue after a painful breakup and i did not remmeber where i lived for at least one hour
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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby Xtreme » Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:16 pm

But what if fugues are repeated and enterchanged throughout the day/week/year/ect...

I had a fugue that last near 10 years, and the same entity returned and stayed in my life (controlling the ship) for 2 years at another time.

I'm awake, and know what's going on when these things happen- there is no true black out, just a fog like memory after the fact.

Is this fugue or something else?
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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby riverside » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:40 am

I'd say this entity is an alter. Have you spoke to anyone about dissociative identity disorder?

Why not jump over onto the board?

I have D.I.D, I just considering myself to lose blocks of time.from 1 to 8 hours because I know I am one of 8 alters.if I didn't,I guess it would be dissociative figure!?

Seriously, the D.I.D board is rally busy and full of people who want to help. Including us.

Hope you decide to.

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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby Mrwolf » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:40 pm

When i was 14 i awakened from a week long period of which i have no memory. I was told i committed a terrible crime but i have no recollection of this. I was sent to a juvenile psych ward as a result because i was intensely suicidal.

I know this would be attributed to guilt of the crime but reading this confirms what a psychiatry student suggested to me. That this event and 4 or 5 others are cases of Dissociatiive fugue.

I am told that at age 22 i joined the army. I came to myself in fort benning GA being screamed at by drill instructors. I have no memory of the first 5 weeks i was there.

I have also been diagnosed as schizophrenic bi polar and did with adhd on top of it all.
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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby KitMcDaydream » Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:41 pm

I have a question please?

I have other alters... is it possible for only one alter to have a dissociative fugue?

eg if one alter was up front just going about daily life then something traumatic happened to them and when they woke up in hospital a new alter was up front with no knowledge that they were just an alter or part of a system?

What if they made a new life for themselves then years down the line something triggered the previous alter to come back? They 'wake up' in a different house unaware many years have passed since the day they disappeared? ..and everyone around them thinks of the body as a completely different personality to who they were.

At some point they remember enough to know they were in hospital and have no wish to go back in case they are kept in and it triggers another major switch, they now find they have dependants who need them so continue to live as the new person publicly until they can work out what's going on and who people believe they are.

would this be an example of dissociative fugue for someone who had multiple alters? Does anyone know if this is possible in theory?
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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby FreyjaV » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:36 pm

So I was describing a time in my past when I “lost time” for 2 weeks to my therapist and she said I had a dissociative fugue. But I just read the description of this section (“sudden, unexpected, but purposeful travel from home“) and maybe she is wrong because I never left home. (Although I couldn’t travel because I was sick....)

I have OSDD-1b, so I have alters. So I think that someone switched in for two weeks solid and I had total amnesia. So if you lose two weeks to an alter, is that still “dissociative fugue”? What happened was this: I was really, really sick (I had a cold, a flu, and an ear infection in both ears). I was finally feeling better one morning so my mom suggested that I get dressed and ride along in the passenger seat while she did some errands just to “get out of the house and see some sunshine” after being cooped up sick for so long. I felt groggy and confused but agreed. As we were pulling out of the driveway I asked what day it was (I had been so sick I felt like I lost track of what day it was). I expected her to say “Thursday” or something but she said “actually today is Jan 1st — happy near year!” And I freaked out, because it felt like just last night it was mid-December and then I woke up and it is a new year? What happened to Christmas?! To New Year’s Eve!?! How did I miss all that? I love Christmas. Did we exchange presents? What happened?!? The most unsettling part was *I had no perception of time passing* — it felt like time went straight from mid-Dec. to Jan. 1. It was very scary and upsetting and my mom didn’t know what to make of it either.

I have OSDD-1b so I don’t “lose time” hardly ever in day-to-day life, but I have huge gaps in my childhood so I think I used to have a lot more amnesia between alters back then.

So not sure whether that experience was a “fugue” or not...
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Re: About Dissociative Fugue

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:45 pm

Sounds like a regular straight up DID blackout to me. If you have amnesia and alters, that’s DID—not that it matters to distinguish between OSDD 1b and DID. I’d say it was DID anyway given your memory gaps of past events. Dissociative fugue is only diagnosed when there isn’t a dissociative disorder like OSDD or DID present. Same with DP/DR—you can’t have a diagnosis of that AND one of OSDD/DID, because DP and DR are part of DID as is dissociative fugue.
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