Self-defining memories in post-traumatic stress disorder

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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.

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