Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Michael R. Nash

Committee Members

Priscilla Blanton, Wesley Morgan, John Lounsbury

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine the importance of defensiveness, tendency to brood, cognitive complaints and family functioning in the generation of specific autobiographical memories among a clinical sample of diagnostically diverse adult outpatients. Adults who report more defensiveness, more proneness to brood, more cognitive complaints and were raised by more dysfunctional families were hypothesized to elicit fewer specific memories. Further, trauma history and depressed mood were also explored. To explore these questions, I use data collected from eighty-eight adults. Pearson correlation is used to analyze the relationship between memory specificity and defensiveness, likelihood to brood, cognitive complaints and family functionality. Multiple regression analysis is used to explore whether the relationship between the previously mentioned variables depends on depressed mood. The results indicate:(1) patients who are more defensive have fewer specific memories, (2) the relationship between proneness to brood and memory specificity depends on mood; whereas non-depressed ruminators retrieve more specific memories, depressed ruminators retrieve fewer negative specific memories, (3) the relationship between cognitive complaints and memory specificity also depends on mood; whereas non-depressed patients who report more cognitive complaints retrieve more specific memories, depressed patients who report more cognitive complaints retrieve fewer specific memories, and (4) patients raised in less dysfunctional families retrieved more negatively overloaded specific memories. Further, there is no difference in memory specificity retrieval between traumatized and non-traumatized groups. In conclusion, being in contact with emotions allow patients to retrieve more specific memories. However, when the patient is depressed, an increased difficulty in controlling affect by being “stuck” in rumination or by feeling unable to think or concentrate impairs the ability of retrieving specific memories.

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