16 Pages

Dialogue Between Speakers and Attendees at the 1998 Meeting on Trauma and Cognitive Science: Questions and Answers About Traumatic Memory

WithChris R. Brewin, Bernice Andrews

Various issues of central importance to the field of trauma were continually raised and debated at the 1998 Meeting on Trauma and Cognitive Science. Peri-traumatic dissociation prevents the creation of a detailed, verbally accessible or narrative memory, or creates one that cannot readily be retrieved when the trauma is over, because it is encoded as part of an alternative mental state. The intensity and precision of the memory fades, and it becomes less subjectively important. Attendees and presenters also pointed out that sexually abused child often have difficulty developing narrative memories. Primary repression implies the need for preconscious or unconscious mechanisms that block any conscious processing being accorded to the traumatic scene. Presenters and attendees raised the question whether research on college students is relevant to traumatized populations. A large part of the discussion at the meeting was concerned with describing the different types of memory processes from a developmental perspective.