Self-defining memories in post-traumatic stress disorder

Br J Clin Psychol. 2005 Nov;44(Pt 4):591-8. doi: 10.1348/014466505X64081.


Objective: This study investigated the relationship between trauma survivors' goals and retrieval of self-defining memories in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Methods: Civilian trauma survivors with PTSD, trauma survivors with no PTSD and non-trauma-exposed control participants (N = 49) provided autobiographical memories of events that they believe shaped who they are. Participants also provided details about their major personal goals.

Results: Participants with PTSD reported more self-defining memories that were trauma-related, negative valence and from adult years than non-PTSD and control participants. Further, retrieval of trauma-related self-defining memories was strongly associated with reporting personal goals that were related to traumatic experiences.

Conclusions: These findings are discussed in terms of the proposition that trauma survivors' current concerns may direct retrieval of trauma-related memories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autobiographies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Self Concept
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology