Amnesia refers to difficulty in learning new information or in remembering the past. These impairments can have a functional origin, but more commonly they result from neurological injury or disease. Functional amnesia is a psychiatric disorder. The amnesia in this case is presumed to result from conflict and repression, and its presentation varies from individual to individual. Typically, a patient is admitted to the hospital in a confused or frightened state. Memory for the past has been lost, especially personal, autobiographical memory. Often, the patient cannot produce his or her own name. Yet, the ability to learn new material is almost always intact. After the disorder clears, usually within a week, the lost memories return except for the events of the day or two just prior to hospital admission. Rarely, the disorder lasts longer, and sizable pieces of the past remain unavailable.

Further reading

  1. Mishkin M (1982): A memory system in the monkey. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B, 298: 85–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Schacter DL (1985): Multiple forms of memory in humans and animals. In: Memory Systems of the Brain. Weinberger N, McGaugh J, Lynch G, eds. New York: GuilfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Squire LR (1987) Memory and Brain. New York: OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Zola-Morgan S, Squire LR (1985): Complementary approaches to the study of memory: human amnesia and animal models. In: Memory Systems of the Brain, Weinberger N, McGaugh J, Lynch G, eds: New York: GuilfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry R. Squire

There are no affiliations available

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