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Stress, Trauma, and Children's Memory DevelopmentNeurobiological, cognitive, clinical and legal perspectives$
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Mark L. Howe, Gail S. Goodman, and Dante Cicchetti

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195308457

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195308457.001.0001

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Accuracy and Specificity of Autobiographical Memory in Childhood Trauma Victims

Accuracy and Specificity of Autobiographical Memory in Childhood Trauma Victims

Developmental Considerations

(p.171) 5 Accuracy and Specificity of Autobiographical Memory in Childhood Trauma Victims
Stress, Trauma, and Children's Memory Development

Christin M. Ogle

Stephanie D. Block

Latonya S. Harris

Michelle Culver

Else-Marie Augusti

Susan Timmer

Anthony Urquiza

Gail S. Goodman

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the claim that childhood trauma leads to a specific type of autobiographical memory functioning, namely “overgeneral memory”. It reviews scientific theory and research on autobiographical memory development, memory for trauma-related and nontrauma-related information in traumatized individuals, and autobiographical memory in nontraumatized and traumatized adolescents and adults. Preliminary findings from an ongoing study that examines autobiographical memory development in documented child sexual abuse victims versus matched controls with no known history of child sexual abuse are presented. It is shown that contrary to the overgeneral memory hypothesis, individuals with child maltreatment histories, especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may overfocus on trauma in their lives and in their pasts, and this focus may make their autobiographical memories particularly accurate, especially for trauma-related information.

Keywords:   trauma, memory, children, adults, child sexual abuse, PTSD, overgeneral memory, autobiographical memory development

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