Remembering and Responding to Distressing Autobiographical Memories: Exploring Risk and Intervention Targets for Posttraumatic Stress in Traumatized Refugees

Anna Reebs, Kim Yuval, Amit Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It is tragic that more than 65 million people are currently forcibly displaced due to civil war, ethnic cleansing, and related atrocities. They suffer at high rates from trauma- and stress-related mental health problems. To advance development of effective mental health interventions tailored to refugees and asylum seekers, we need to significantly increase knowledge of risk processes and intervention targets. Accordingly, in an experimental laboratory study, we examined the nature and function(s) of remembering and responding to a distressing autobiographical memory among 110 severely traumatized Sudanese refugees. We found that (a) posttraumatic stress symptom severity predicted emotional reactivity, but not avoidance, in response to remembering a distressing memory and that (b) relative to a self-distanced perspective, a self-immersed perspective during memory recall led to lower levels of avoidance, but not emotional reactivity. Findings are discussed with respect to extant theory, intervention development, and implementation for traumatized refugee populations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)789-797
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume5
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • PTSD
  • autobiographical memory
  • avoidance
  • cross-cultural
  • refugees

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology

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