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July 1964

Awareness of Events in Case of Amnesia

Author Affiliations

Research Assistant (S. L. Wiggins) (now at Eugene Talmadge Memorial Hospital); Career Resident in Psychiatry (Dr. E. A. Lombard), VA Hospital; Chief (Dr. M. J. Brennan), Psychology Service, VA Hospital; Coordinator (Dr. R. V. Heckel), Research & Training, Psychology Service, VA Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;11(1):67-70. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720250069008

After an amnesic state the individual is unable to report awareness for events that occurred during that period. It is possible, however, that there may be differences between conscious responsivity (awareness) and autonomic responsivity. The question arises as to the possibility of a lack of knowledge at a conscious level and the possibility of an emotional response as measured by physiological activity. The purpose of the study was an attempt to determine if there is a difference in responsivity at these levels in the amnesic individual.

The literature on emotional disturbance and its effect on physiological responsivity is well reviewed,1,2 and there is no indication that the results in a case of amnesia would be distorted. There is some evidence3 that past emotional experiences that do not appear in the voluntary system can be demonstrated at the autonomic level.

Method  Subject.—(Case History) The subject was

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