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The Impact of Imprisonment on Overgeneral Autobiographical Memory in Former Political Prisoners

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Traumatic experiences may dramatically influence later behavior and cognitive processing. This study investigated how trauma shapes the way that we remember personal experiences. Specifically, we investigated overgeneral autobiographical memory, which is the tendency to remember autobiographical events in an overgeneral rather than specific way. We administered the Autobiographical Memory Test (Williams & Broadbent,) to 86 survivors of political imprisonment 37 years after they had been released from imprisonment. Depression and posttraumatic stress disorder were not significantly related to overgeneral autobiographical memory. Significant overgeneral autobiographical memory correlates included embitterment, r = -.28, and being released to former East Germany, d = 0.67. Survivors with social support, r = .30 were better able to recall specific memories. Certain trauma characteristics and the way the trauma is processed may thus influence how personal memories are later remembered. This study also furthers the understanding of memory processes in political prisoners, who are not commonly studied in psychological research.
Tijdschrift: Journal of Traumatic Stress
ISSN: 0894-9867
Issue: 5
Volume: 26
Pagina's: 626 - 630
Aantal pagina's: 5
Jaar van publicatie:2013