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Behav Res Ther. 1995 Jul;33(6):619-30.

Autobiographical memory disturbance in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


Vietnam combat veterans with (n = 19) and without (n = 13) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) participated in an autobiographical memory experiment in which they attempted to retrieve specific personal memories exemplifying traits denoted by positive (e.g. loyal) and negative (e.g. guilty) cue words. Veterans with PTSD exhibited difficulties retrieving specific autobiographical memories, especially in response to positive trait cue words. These deficits were especially pronounced in PTSD Ss who wore Vietnam War regalia (e.g. medals, fatigues) to the laboratory. Regalia-wearing PTSD Ss disproportionately retrieved memories from the Vietnam War, unlike other Ss who retrieved relatively recent memories. Wearing regalia in daily life may be emblematic of psychological fixation to a war fought more than two decades ago. Difficulties remembering one's past may underlie difficulties envisioning one's future, as reflected in the PTSD symptom of 'future foreshortening', and difficulties using memory specifically may also hamper efforts to solve personal problems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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