Dissociation is an important aspect of responses to traumatic events. According to a number of influential theories, it negatively impacts cognitive performance including encoding of the trauma memories, leading to an increased risk of later conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder . We tested this hypothesis experimentally in two studies by inducing dissociation in the laboratory and investigating the effects on several aspects of cognition, including time estimation, digit and spatial span, and story recall. Dissociation was related to decrements in (...) time estimation, digit span, and story retention, but did not affect perceptual attention, spatial span, or immediate story recall. The results are discussed in the context of theoretical models of PTSD and their implications for official questioning of traumatized individuals such as sexual assault survivors. (shrink)
Dissociation is a phenomenon common in a number of psychological disorders and has been frequently suggested to impair memory for traumatic events. In this study we explored the effects of dissociation on visual memory. A dissociative state was induced experimentally using a mirror-gazing task and its short-term effects on memory performance were investigated. Sixty healthy individuals took part in the experiment. Induced dissociation impaired visual memory performance relative to a control condition; however, the degree of dissociation was not associated with (...) lower memory scores in the experimental group. The results have theoretical and practical implications for individuals who experience frequent dissociative states such as patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. (shrink)
Overgeneralizations by psychologists of the research evidence on memory and eyewitness testimony, such as “memory decays with time” or “memories are fluid and malleable,” are beginning to appear in legal judgements and guidance documents, accompanied by unwarranted disparagement of lay beliefs about memory. These overgeneralizations could have significant adverse consequences for the conduct of civil and criminal law.