Accuracy and Specificity of Autobiographical Memory in Childhood Trauma Victims: Developmental Considerations

Christin M. Ogle, Stephanie D. Block, Latonya S. Harris, Michelle Culver, Else Marie Augusti, Susan Timmer, Anthony Urquiza, Gail S. Goodman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the claim that childhood trauma leads to a specific type ofautobiographical memory functioning, namely "overgeneral memory". It reviews scientific theory and research on autobiographical memory development, memory for traumarelated 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStress, Trauma, and Children's Memory Development: Neurobiological, Cognitive, Clinical and Legal Perspectives
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199867387
ISBN (Print)9780195308457
StatePublished - Apr 17 2008


  • Adults
  • Autobiographical memory development
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Children
  • Memory
  • Overgeneral memory
  • PTSD
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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