Dissociative fugue: escape due to memory loss

Someone with dissociative fugue loses their memory from one moment to the next. The person no longer knows who he is and where he is. This can take several hours to several days. As a result, the person will literally run away. Sometimes the person temporarily assumes a different identity and drastic decisions can be made. What is a dissociative fugue and how is it treated?

What it is

Someone with a dissociative fugue suddenly no longer knows who he is, where he belongs and what his identity is. Sometimes parts of the memory are still active, but usually there is complete memory loss. The person only thinks about one thing: I have to leave. Therefore, the person will leave in a hurry, sometimes fleeing to another region. He rushes out of his house or leaves his workplace because he feels threatened. Because this resembles flight, the condition has been given this name (fugue = flight). The condition is also called dissociative flight. The person abandons everything at that moment and does not realize that he is suffering from memory loss.

The symptoms

If this happens to someone, the person will appear confused during the period of absence. There is often a surprised expression on the face. Emotions such as sadness, shame, fear, despair, aggression can arise as a result. A person may begin to feel depressed and may even be able to commit suicide. The memory loss can last from several hours to several days. During this period, a person may make drastic decisions such as quitting a job. Because there is memory loss, someone can adopt a (partially) different identity during this period. When the person is himself again, he usually remembers nothing about his flights.

How do you get it?

Dissociative fugue is a rare condition. It can arise after a period of extreme stress, such as serious accidents, experiencing a war, thoughts of suicide, fire, relationship problems, serious financial problems or the loss of a loved one. It can also occur as a result of a drug or epilepsy. Once you have had a fugue, there is a chance of having it again after a stressful period. If the fugue occurs more often, it is referred to as a dissociative identity disorder.


Once the person has recovered from his dissociative fugue, psychiatric treatment is needed. This involves learning to deal better with stressful periods. It depends on the person which treatment is best. You can choose from, among other things: psychotherapy, hypnosis or medication.


This allows the patient to learn to discover his own identity again. If there has been a major event, therapy will be provided. Behavior, family situation, way of thinking and all other important circumstances are examined. Sometimes it is good to participate in group therapy where people with similar problems participate. A psychiatrist is a medical specialist who can prescribe medications.


Through hypnotherapy or trance, the patient is brought into a state of relaxation and consciousness reduction. The hypnotized person is more receptive to commands from the hypnotherapist. This treatment method can tackle certain tensions that lead to extreme stress.


Some patients are prescribed medication. Psychotropic drugs are a group of medications that affect the central nervous system and can help people with mental illness. These may be the following drugs: tranquilizers, anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants or anti-psychotics.