The noun fugue describes a psychiatric disorder that involves memory loss and travel. If you wake up in New Jersey and can’t remember how you got there, one possibility is that you were in a fugue state.

Fugue traces back to the Latin word fuga, meaning “flight.” If you’re in a fugue state, it's like you're fleeing from your own identity. Symptoms of this rare condition include amnesia and wandering, typically in an attempt to create a new identity. Musicians might know that fugue is also the name of a musical form in which a theme is introduced and then repeated in higher or lower notes, as if the theme is flying around the scale.

Definitions of fugue

n a musical form consisting of a theme repeated a fifth above or a fourth below its first statement

Type of:
classical, classical music, serious music
traditional genre of music conforming to an established form and appealing to critical interest and developed musical taste

n a dreamlike state of altered consciousness that may last for hours or days

Type of:
mental condition, mental state, psychological condition, psychological state
(psychology) a mental condition in which the qualities of a state are relatively constant even though the state itself may be dynamic

n dissociative disorder in which a person forgets who they are and leaves home to create a new life; during the fugue there is no memory of the former life; after recovering there is no memory for events during the dissociative state

psychogenic fugue
Type of:
dissociative disorder
dissociation so severe that the usually integrated functions of consciousness and perception of self break down

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