Reliving, emotions, and fragmentation in the autobiographical memories of veterans diagnosed with PTSD

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Fifty veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) each recalled four autobiographical memories: one from the 2 years before service, one non-combat memory from the time in service, one from combat, and one from service that had often come as an intrusive memory. For each memory, they provided 21 ratings about reliving, belief, sensory properties, reexperiencing emotions, visceral emotional responses, fragmentation, and narrative coherence. We used these ratings to examine three claims about traumatic memories: a separation of cognitive and visceral aspects of emotion, an increased sense of reliving, and increased fragmentation. There was evidence for a partial separation of cognitive judgments of reexperiencing an emotion and reports of visceral symptoms of the emotion, with visceral symptoms correlating more consistently with scores on PTSD tests. Reliving, but not fragmentation of the memories, increased with increases in the trauma relatedness of the event and with increases in scores on standardized tests of PTSD severity. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.






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Rubin, DC, ME Feldman and JC Beckham (2004). Reliving, emotions, and fragmentation in the autobiographical memories of veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18(1). pp. 17–35. 10.1002/acp.950 Retrieved from

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David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

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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, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.


Jean Crowell Beckham

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Interest in assessment and treatment of trauma, particularly as occurs for both women and men during military service; focus in treatment outcome of differential and collective contribution for psychopharmacological and behavioral interventions in PTSD populations; long term physical health effects of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder.

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