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Graphic Illustration for the Dissociative Amnesia Process

Here I have attempted to show the progression  - the stages - of the process of forgetting.

I have used the same image and altered the colouring to show how the vibrant functioning Self loses vibrancy and becomes a ghostly grey of Self and then how the developing social Self - that is shamed - adds a washed colouring of Self that protects the vulnerabilities of the earlier Self. 

The present Self - the false Self - presents as ordinary, hiding both  the shame and damaged Self.


Image 4 perhaps could be the Potential Self since the hope of this research will allow a re-integration that brings forth a more vibrant and healthier Self.

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The Research Article


Although dissociation is not a new concept, a review of the literature of both trauma and dissociation speaks little of the experiences of individuals with dissociative amnesia and impact on their sense of self.  For survivors of trauma and abuse, motivated forgetting (also referred to as dissociative Amnesia (DA)) offers an important coping strategy. 


Key question:

How does the experience of dissociative amnesia impact an individual’s sense of self?


Research Aim:

The aim of this research is to capture participants’ story of how they make sense of and understand DA (the remembering and forgetting).


Research Objectives:

· To gather narratives from participants of their experiences of remember/forgetting childhood and significant events.

· To situate these narratives within the context of the participants’ present-day experiences and functioning.

· To define the participants’ sense of meaning of their sense of self in the context of remembering and forgetting.



A Narrative approach was used in this research which advocates that people make meaning of their lives by reflexively ordering them as life stories (Bruner, 1990). Telling stories can serve to enhance knowledge of neglected yet significant areas of human life (Polkinghorne 2007). 

Data was collected using semi structured interviews allowing the researcher to relationally and reflexively engage with the participant (Etherington, 2004). 



The study has been ethically approved by University of Chester, UK 



The findings in this pilot study included:

· The conflictual world of remembering and not remembering

· Borrowing of memories

· Emotional disconnection from self and other.

· Emotional response included; Shame, Fear, Frustration and Contempt.



This research is the giving voice to the unsayable and narrates the experience faced navigating life DA.  A voice that was less a story, more an embodiment; less a mood, more a void.  The next phase of the research is to carry out in-depth interviews with twelve participants exploring their experience of DA.



Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Etherington, K. (2004) Becoming a reflexive researcher: using ourselves in research, London: Jessica Kingsley

Polkinghorne, D. E. (2007) Validity Issues in Narrative Research, Qualitative Inquiry, 13(4), 471-486

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