Characterisation of self-defining memories in criminals with antisocial personality disorder

Memory. 2020 Oct;28(9):1123-1135. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2020.1818785. Epub 2020 Sep 14.


Early aversive events are key factors in the development of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and are known to impact the ability to produce specific autobiographical memories and to modify self-construction. The present study assessed identity construction in forensic inpatients suffering from ASPD by comparing the characteristics (specificity, integration, valence, topic and period) of self-defining memories (SDM) of persons with ASPD hospitalised in a forensic hospital to those of control participants. Offenders with ASPD had difficulty in retrieving purely specific single events and tended to recall memories comprising multiple events. In addition, they produced significantly less meaning-making from their past experiences (low integration). These characteristics of SDM could be due to a defensive process used by offenders with ASPD in which they do not integrate aversive experiences, thereby creating a vicious circle where maladjustment of their personality is maintained.

Keywords: Self-defining memories; antisocial personality disorder; integration; specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Criminals*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall