Involuntary Memories and Dissociative Amnesia: Assessing Key Assumptions in PTSD Research.
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Autobiographical memories of trauma victims are often described as disturbed in two ways. First, the trauma is frequently re-experienced in the form of involuntary, intrusive recollections. Second, the trauma is difficult to recall voluntarily (strategically); important parts may be totally or partially inaccessible-a feature known as dissociative amnesia. These characteristics are often mentioned by PTSD researchers and are included as PTSD symptoms in the DSM-IV-TR (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). In contrast, we show that both involuntary and voluntary recall are enhanced by emotional stress during encoding. We also show that the PTSD symptom in the diagnosis addressing dissociative amnesia, trouble remembering important aspects of the trauma is less well correlated with the remaining PTSD symptoms than the conceptual reversal of having trouble forgetting important aspects of the trauma. Our findings contradict key assumptions that have shaped PTSD research over the last 40 years.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1177/2167702613496241
Publication InfoBerntsen, D; & Rubin, David C (2014). Involuntary Memories and Dissociative Amnesia: Assessing Key Assumptions in PTSD Research. Clin Psychol Sci, 2(2). pp. 174-186. 10.1177/2167702613496241. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/9758.
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Juanita M. Kreps Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Please refer to the Rubin Lab website My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions