Individual differences in posttraumatic stress symptoms in relation to a compromised autobiographical memory, in severely traumatized refugees.
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A number of studies suggest that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with autobiographical memory deficits, notably overgeneral memory (OGM). Instead of being able to recall specific autobiographical memories, people with PTSD seem to mainly retrieve general events. Fifty-six severely traumatized patients completed the trauma questionnaire PCL-5, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) in the present study. Contrary to the expectations, PTSD severity was not associated with more overgeneral memory retrievals on the AMT. Next to this, the role of cue words valence was investigated in the relationship between symptom clusters of PTSD and OGM. Also in contrast with the expectations, high avoidance tendencies could not predict more autobiographical overgenerality in response to the negative cue words of the AMT (Zheng, & Gray, 2018). Neither did a high score on depressive symptoms, predict more OGM in response to positive cues words (Mood Congruence Effects: Bower, 1983). These findings suggests that, regardless of the difference in symptom severity or affective valence of a preceding trigger, OGM was substantial. It may be that individual differences in PTSD and depressive symptoms in clinical patients are poorly associated with differences in memory specificity. The compromised specificity could only be evident when clinical patients are compared with control patients. It is, however, hard to differentiate in AM complaints in a group that is this severely traumatized. Future research could engage in more diverse diagnostic groups so that the transdiagnosticity of OGM can be further examined.