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Finally, systematized amnesia is the inability to recall a certain category of information, such as military or educational events.
Throughout this research-paper I use the designations mental health field and mental health professionals rather than psychology and psychologists to reflect the wide diversity of professions involved in the controversy over these diagnoses, for example, psychiatry, social work, counseling, and, of course, psychology.
The controversy is principally over the dramatic increase in the frequency of dissociative diagnoses since the 1970s, although some professionals also seriously question the legitimacy of these diagnoses.
The lost material, usually of some traumatic or very stressful situation, is not forgotten; rather, it is being actively kept out of consciousness or awareness in an attempt to protect the person from being psychologically overwhelmed.
Different theories characterize this activity differently. For example, psychoanalysis would say the material is being forcefully kept in the unconscious by repression; a behaviorist would say the material is out of awareness—but both agree memory of the event(s) or thoughts is not readily available to the person’s immediate recall.
The amount of separated material may vary from relatively restricted to all encompassing.
In recent years the information media, especially television news, have presented numerous cases of reported dissociative disorders, specifically amnesia, fugue, and multiple personality.
The DSM does not offer separate diagnoses for different types of dissociative amnesia, but it does describe five types.
Localized amnesia refers to not being able to recall something that occurred in a limited time span, usually from a few minutes to a few days at most.
In the first DSM (1952), the disorder was categorized as a psychoneurotic disorder (i.e., a disorder involving many characteristics, but centering on very high levels of unwarranted anxiety) and was termed dissociative reaction.
By the time of the second edition (DSM-II) in 1968, the disorder was in the neuroses section and was listed under two subtypes: hysterical neurosis, dissociative type (which included amnesia, fugue, and multiple personality) and depersonalization neurosis.