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Exploring self-defining memories in schizophrenia

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Previous studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia are impaired in recalling specific events from their personal past. However, the relationship between autobiographical memory impairments and disturbance of the sense of identity in schizophrenia has not been investigated in detail. In this study the authors investigated schizophrenic patients' ability to recall self-defining memories; that is, memories that play an important role in building and maintaining the self-concept. Results showed that patients recalled as many specific self-defining memories as healthy participants. However, patients with schizophrenia exhibited an abnormal reminiscence bump and reported different types of thematic content (i.e., they recalled less memories about past achievements and more memories regarding hospitalisation and stigmatisation of illness). Furthermore, the findings suggest that impairments in extracting meaning from personal memories could represent a core disturbance of autobiographical memory in patients with schizophrenia.
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Keywords: Autobiographical memory; Meaning making; Schizophrenia; Self-defining memories; Specificity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Geneva, Switzerland,Hopital La Colombiere CHU Montpellier, and INSERM U-888, France 2: University of Liege, and Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS), Belgium 3: University of Geneva, Switzerland 4: Hopital Gui de Chauliac CHU Montpellier, and INSERM U-888, France 5: Hopital La Colombiere CHU Montpellier, and INSERM U-888, France 6: University of Geneva, Switzerland,University of Liege, Belgium

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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