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July 1997

Emotional Arousal and Phobia in Transient Global Amnesia

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurological and Psychiatric Sciences, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.

Arch Neurol. 1997;54(7):866-873. doi:10.1001/archneur.1997.00550190056015

Objective:  To evaluate the role of emotionally stressful or phobogenic events and phobic personality traits in transient global amnesia (TGA).

Design:  Case-control study.

Setting:  Tertiary care center.

Patients:  Fifty-one case patients with TGA (mean±SD age, 62.7±6.7 years) compared with 51 control patients with transient ischemic attacks (mean±SD age, 63.8±6.7 years).

Main Outcome Measures:  Precipitant factors, life events, and phobic attitudes.

Results:  Of the 25 TGA attacks that were triggered by a precipitant, 11 were possibly related to emotionally stressful or phobogenic situations. On a scale that measured phobic attitudes, the case patients with TGA scored significantly higher than the control patients with transient ischemic attacks (mean±SD total score, 15.21±11.0 vs 4.41±5.2; P<.001 by corrected analysis of variance for age, sex, and education). The amount of stressful life events in the year that preceded the attack did not differ between the case patients with TGA and the control patients with transient ischemic attacks.

Conclusion:  The results support the hypothesis that emotional arousal and phobia are involved in TGA.