Dissociative Fugue: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

The dissociative fugue is a mental disorder characterized by memory loss for one or more unexpected outputs. The person leaves, is in a new place and does not remember how to get there.

Usually the person can assume a new identity during the departure and has escaped a stressful or traumatic situation.

Dissociative Fugue

Characteristics of dissociative leakage

The etiology of dissociative leakage is related to dissociative amnesia, which is characterized by memory block after exposure to traumatic or stressful events.

  • A person experiencing the leak may be exposed to:
  • A stressful or traumatic event.

The reappearance of an event or person representing a previous trauma.
Symptoms of dissociative leakage

It is difficult to recognize a state of flight because the person’s behavior seems normal.

Symptoms may be as follows:

  • Sudden and unforeseen trip away from home.
    Confusion or loss of memory about identity, with the possibility of assuming a new identity.
    Inability to remember past events or important information in the person’s life.
    Extreme discomfort and problems with functioning in daily life, due to leakage episodes.


Dissociative leakage has been linked to a high level of stress , which can be caused by traumatic events such as:

  • Wars.
    Natural disasters.


A) The alteration of this disorder consists of sudden and unexpected trips away from the home or the workplace, with inability to remember the individual’s past.

B) Confusion about personal identity, or assumption of a new identity (partial or complete)

C) The disorder does not appear exclusively in the course of a dissociative identity disorder and is not due to the physiological effects of a substance (drugs or drugs) or a medical illness.

D) Symptoms cause significant clinical distress or social, occupational, or other significant areas of activity.

If there are symptoms of dissociative amnesia, the health professional will begin an evaluation with the medical history and a physical examination of the affected person.

There are no specific medical tests, although neuroimaging, electroencephalogram or blood tests may be used to rule out other medical conditions or drug side effects.

Also Read: Dissociative Amnesia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
Medical conditions such as brain injuries, brain diseases, sleep deprivation, and alcohol or drug abuse can cause symptoms similar to those of this disorder.

If no physical causes are found, the person may be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist who has the experience and training to evaluate, diagnose and intervene.


The first goal of treatment is to decrease symptoms and control problems arising from the disorder.
The person is then assisted in expressing and processing painful memories, developing new coping strategies, restoring normal functioning, and improving personal relationships.

The treatment model depends on the specific symptoms and the situation of the person:

Cognitive therapy : change of irrational or dysfunctional thoughts that result in negative feelings and behaviors.
Medication: There is no specific medication to treat this disorder, although it can benefit a person who also suffer from anxiety or depression.
Family therapy : educating the family about the disorder, improving skills to adapt to it.
Another type of therapies to help the person express their feelings and thoughts.
Clinical Hypnosis: Includes intense relaxation and concentration techniques to get an altered state of consciousness, allowing the person to explore their thoughts, emotions and memories that they have been able to block from their conscious mind. Its use must be studied, since there are several risks such as the creation of false memories or remembrance of traumatic experiences.

Most dissociative leaks are brief for less than a month. However, some cases may be several months.

Often the disorder is solved only and the prognosis is usually good. However, without treatment to solve the underlying problems, other leaks may occur.


Prevention itself is not possible, although it is helpful to start treatment as soon as symptoms are observed.

It is important therefore immediate intervention after a stressful or traumatic experience to reduce the possibility of such a disorder.