24 Pages

Exploring the Nature of Traumatic Memory: Combining Clinical Knowledge with Laboratory Methods

WithBessel A. van der Kolk, James W. Hopper, Janet E. Osterman

In clinical practice, one often has an opportunity to witness the evolution of traumatic memories beginning shortly after the actual occurrence of the event. The second component of traumatic memory is that the memory is experienced as if the event and one's responses to it-sensory, cognitive, emotional and physiological-were happening all over again. The understanding of how people process traumatic events has been entirely within the domain of clinical practice and observation. Traditionally, the fields of clinical psychology and psychiatry on the one hand, and cognitive science and neuroscience on the other, have had such widely divergent samples, methodologies and concepts on which they based their understandings of memory processes, that there has been a veritable confusion of tongues between the disciplines. Despite the power of careful clinical observations, the phenomena have not been systematically studied in the laboratory.