Dissociative style and directed forgetting.

B. Elzinga, E. de Beurs, J.A. Sergeant, R. van Dyck, R.H Phaf

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Abstract

Dissociative style may correspond to an enhanced ability to avoid conscious recollection of traumatic experiences, which may, however, remain dormant in nonconscious memory. This hypothesis was tested in two 'directed- forgetting' experiments with affectively neutral words (experiment 1) and sex and threat words (experiment 2) employing students high and low in dissociative style, and dissociative patients. Conscious and nonconscious memory were separated with the process dissociation procedure (Jacoby, 1991). Instruction to forget was expected to reduce conscious but to enhance nonconscious memory performance in subjects with a high dissociative ability. Results were opposite to predictions. Particularly for sex words, the instruction to forget raised the overall (conscious and nonconscious) memory performance of the patients. An alternative construction hypothesis is proposed that identifies dissociative style with enhanced skills of constructing conscious experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-95
Number of pages18
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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