University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Investigated the relation between memory specificity and self-reported trauma, depressive symptoms, and other emotional characteristics in a group of adolescent inpatients. Research with adults has shown that clinical depression is associated with a difficulty in retrieving specific autobiographical memories in response to cue words, and this pattern of overgeneral memory is related to the prognosis of depression. Research has also shown a clear positive association between self-reported trauma and overgeneral memory. This study's results showed that higher levels of trauma--both in terms of total number and in terms of severity or related distress--were associated with reduced autobiographical memory specificity (AM). None of the other emotional variables, such as depression, anxiety, worry, hopelessness, or subjective stress, were significantly related to the retrieval of specific memories. The results are reconcilable with Williams' (1996) developmental idea that a pattern of overgeneral AM retrieval originates in childhood trauma as a way of regulating affect.