Autobiographical memory specificity among people with recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse

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Abstract

Individuals who report to have recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) almost by definition believe that these memories were previously inaccessible for them. We examined whether poor autobiographical memory specificity for all kinds of events (i.e., events not necessarily related to CSA) may underlie such impressions of amnesia. Thus, we examined whether people who report recovered memories of CSA (n = 44) would exhibit more difficulty retrieving specific autobiographical memories compared to people who never forgot their abuse experiences (continuous memory group; n = 42) and people without a history of abuse (controls; n = 26). The standard Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) was administered to these 3 groups along with measures of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology. Controls were significantly better at retrieving specific autobiographical memories relative to individuals with continuous and recovered CSA memories, who did not differ from each other. Thus, reduced autobiographical memory specificity was not particularly pronounced in people with recovered memories of CSA. Poor autobiographical memory specificity is unlikely to explain the impression of amnesia reported by this group. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-344
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

Keywords

  • Amnesia
  • Autobiographical memory specificity
  • COGNITIVE MECHANISMS
  • Childhood abuse
  • DEPRESSION
  • Depression
  • EVENTS
  • INVENTORY
  • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • RELIABILITY
  • RETRIEVAL
  • RUMINATION
  • SUICIDE ATTEMPTERS
  • TRAUMA

Cite this

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title = "Autobiographical memory specificity among people with recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse",
abstract = "Individuals who report to have recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) almost by definition believe that these memories were previously inaccessible for them. We examined whether poor autobiographical memory specificity for all kinds of events (i.e., events not necessarily related to CSA) may underlie such impressions of amnesia. Thus, we examined whether people who report recovered memories of CSA (n = 44) would exhibit more difficulty retrieving specific autobiographical memories compared to people who never forgot their abuse experiences (continuous memory group; n = 42) and people without a history of abuse (controls; n = 26). The standard Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) was administered to these 3 groups along with measures of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology. Controls were significantly better at retrieving specific autobiographical memories relative to individuals with continuous and recovered CSA memories, who did not differ from each other. Thus, reduced autobiographical memory specificity was not particularly pronounced in people with recovered memories of CSA. Poor autobiographical memory specificity is unlikely to explain the impression of amnesia reported by this group. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.",
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author = "L. Raymaekers and T. Smeets and M.J.V. Peters and H.L.G.J. Merckelbach",
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AU - Raymaekers, L.

AU - Smeets, T.

AU - Peters, M.J.V.

AU - Merckelbach, H.L.G.J.

PY - 2010/12

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N2 - Individuals who report to have recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) almost by definition believe that these memories were previously inaccessible for them. We examined whether poor autobiographical memory specificity for all kinds of events (i.e., events not necessarily related to CSA) may underlie such impressions of amnesia. Thus, we examined whether people who report recovered memories of CSA (n = 44) would exhibit more difficulty retrieving specific autobiographical memories compared to people who never forgot their abuse experiences (continuous memory group; n = 42) and people without a history of abuse (controls; n = 26). The standard Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) was administered to these 3 groups along with measures of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology. Controls were significantly better at retrieving specific autobiographical memories relative to individuals with continuous and recovered CSA memories, who did not differ from each other. Thus, reduced autobiographical memory specificity was not particularly pronounced in people with recovered memories of CSA. Poor autobiographical memory specificity is unlikely to explain the impression of amnesia reported by this group. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

AB - Individuals who report to have recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) almost by definition believe that these memories were previously inaccessible for them. We examined whether poor autobiographical memory specificity for all kinds of events (i.e., events not necessarily related to CSA) may underlie such impressions of amnesia. Thus, we examined whether people who report recovered memories of CSA (n = 44) would exhibit more difficulty retrieving specific autobiographical memories compared to people who never forgot their abuse experiences (continuous memory group; n = 42) and people without a history of abuse (controls; n = 26). The standard Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) was administered to these 3 groups along with measures of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology. Controls were significantly better at retrieving specific autobiographical memories relative to individuals with continuous and recovered CSA memories, who did not differ from each other. Thus, reduced autobiographical memory specificity was not particularly pronounced in people with recovered memories of CSA. Poor autobiographical memory specificity is unlikely to explain the impression of amnesia reported by this group. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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KW - RUMINATION

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