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# A Case of “Dissociative Amnesia”

Most therapists have worked with adult clients that were amnesic to certain parts of their past that were caused by childhood traumas. Have you ever worked with a person that was totally amnesic to their identity?

In the 1990s the father of a twenty year old male phoned. On the phone he told me that his son was involved in a fatal accident three days prior and had not slept since. His son was unaware of who he was and did not recognize himself when he looked into a mirror.

This was the first time that I had worked with a client that was totally amnesiac of their past (before their recent trauma).

The son had killed a man on the side of a highway three days prior. The police had contacted his father after finding his address on his son’s driver’s license. His son was also being charged by the District Attorney for negligent homicide.

The father wanted an appointment that day. I asked if he would approve the videotaping of the session without his sons knowledge just in case it could be used in his defense in court? He agreed and an hour later the two arrived. The father left and waited at his nearby home for a phone call from me.

The son had no memories before the accident or during the accident. I walked with him to my office restroom mirror. He didn’t recognize himself or his name. His only memory of the accident was a police officer pointing to the body of the deceased and the deceased’s friend repeatedly screaming, “You killed my friend!”

I started questioning him using “Clean Language” questions. I started with the memory of when the deceased‘s  friend  was screaming at him:

Me: “And what happened before a screaming man”?

Son: I see the bloody body

Me: And what happens before a bloody body?

Son: Black

Me: And what happens before black?

Son: I’m passing out

Me : And what happens before passing out?

Son: Its hot. I’m driving the truck

Me: (Going forward in time): And what happens next when it is hot and you are driving the truck?

Son: My head is pounding and it goes black

Me: And what happens before black, before passing out, before pounding head, before hot, before driving a truck, and is it ok to come back to here and now feeling the weight of your body in the chair?

Son: I’m Ok

He now recognized his name and his face in my restroom mirror. He had been driving a panel delivery truck without air conditioning. It was 101 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity the day of the accident. He had passed out from heat exhaustion!

His father showed the videotape to the Assistant DA and the charges were dropped.The session lasted less than a hour. A week later I did a telephone followup. He was fine.

See the link on “ Clean Language”:


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