Amnesia is a temporary or permanent loss of memory which can have various causes.
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Many people encounter amnesia in the form of a transitory "blackout" following two-dollar tequila night at the downtown disco, or else while crying as Eduardo’s car crash causes him to forget his fiancée on our favorite soap. But disorders of memory affect more than just the drunk, the young and the restless.
Amnesia can occur as a result of head trauma, drug toxicity, stroke, Alzheimer disease, infection or even emotional shock. This last type is classified as psychogenic, or as having a psychiatric origin, and can result in the loss of personal memories and identity.
These memories can often be recovered through psychotherapy, but in cases where amnesia lasts for months or years, the subject may begin an entirely new life. This is called a fugue state, and if those affected didn’t have it hard enough, on recovering their memories of pre-trauma events they usually forget the fugue state!