Trauma-centred identity and autobiographical memory in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Ronayne, Emma (2013) Trauma-centred identity and autobiographical memory in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Posttraumatic stress disorder is a prevalent and disabling disorder that can occur following experience of trauma. Contemporary clinical models of PTSD assert that memories for trauma are poorly elaborated and inadequately integrated into autobiographical memory (AM). Recent work of cognitive psychologists suggests, however, that trauma memories remain highly accessible and form a cognitive reference point for the organisation of autobiographical knowledge, leading to the development of trauma-centred identity. The current study sought to explore further the relationships between PTSD symptoms, the phenomenological properties of AM for trauma, and trauma-centred identity. A community sample of 82 participants (male, n = 24; mean age = 36.10 years, SD = 10.82) was recruited. A within-subjects, correlational design was employed. Participants completed online questionnaires relating to PTSD symptoms, the phenomenological properties of a trauma memory and negative memory, and centrality of event to identity. Participants also provided written narratives of both a trauma and negative event. Differences between traumatic and negative memories, and relationships between trauma memory features and both PTSD and centrality were assessed using computerised textual analysis and self-report measures. Results indicated that trauma memories were significantly less coherent, less detailed, and contained fewer spatial references but more cognitive process terms than negative memories. PTSD symptoms correlated significantly with fragmentation of trauma memories and with use of the present tense in trauma narratives. A sense of reliving when remembering trauma and use of present tense were both significantly associated with centrality of event. Results were thus primarily consistent with contemporary clinical theories of PTSD with certain
elements of the centrality position also demonstrated. Findings were discussed in relation to the study’s methodological limitations, including difficulties encountered through LIWC’s lack of consideration of context when counting lexical items. Theoretical implications regarding the measurement of constructs such as fragmentation were outlined. Findings supported current treatment guidelines.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2014 12:23
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2014 12:23


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