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Individuals’ Self-Defining Memories As Reflecting Their Strength and Weaknesses

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Abstract

The associations between attachment orientations, temperament, resilience, and various dimensions of self-defining memories were examined in 83 female Israeli adolescents and young adults. Resiliency and positive temperament were associated with positive qualities of memories, whereas negative emotionality and reactivity were associated with poor recollection quality. Lower levels of fearful attachment orientation were associated with interpersonal memories and mixed emotions in memories, and a profound-distrust attachment orientation was associated with life-threatening memories. The study highlights the contribution of these qualities to recollections and underscores the contribution to theory and practical implications.

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... The coding of the narratives' search for coherence was based on methods described in the literature on trauma resolution (i.e., the extent to which individuals regain emotional and behavioral control and understand how trauma has affected both their inner world and their behavior) (Spooner and Lyddon, 2007;Saltzman et al., 2013). While resolved traumatic memories narratives are rich, specific, and integrative, reflecting individuals' ability to merge affect and cognition in an optimal manner, chaotic unresolved traumatic memories are confused, excessively detailed, and contradictory and contain themes of failure and subsequent humiliation by caregivers, and restricted dismissing narratives are emotionless, over general, and convey a vague and diffuse sense of self and others (Goldner and Scharf, 2017). The narratives were coded using the following indicators: (1) the role of the artist in the drawing (victim, aggressor, bystander, mixed, no specific role), ...
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... For this reason, they are likely to be returned to repeatedly in private thoughts and in the "storying" of the self to others. SDMs have been studied in the laboratory (e.g., Houle, Philippe, Lecours, & Roulez, 2018;Singer et al., 2013;Wood & Conway, 2006) and in clinical settings (e.g., Holm, Pillemer, Bliksted, & Thomsen, 2017;Krans et al., 2017;Nandrino & Gandolphe, 2017), in nonclinical samples (e.g., Çili, Pettit, & Stopa, 2017;Goldner & Scharf, 2017;Sutin & Stockdale, 2011), and in clinical samples (e.g., Cuervo-Lombard, Raucher-Chéné, Barrière, Van der Linden, & Kaladjian, 2016; Duarte & Pinto-Gouveia, 2017). They can be coded for four dimensions of affect, structure, content, and integration (meaning making; Singer & Blagov, 2002;Thorne & McLean, 2001). ...
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The present study examined narrative identity in adolescence (14-18 years) in terms of narrative content and processes of identity development. Age- and gender-related differences in narrative patterns in turning point memories and gender differences in the content and functions for sharing those memories were examined, as was the relationship between narrative patterns and self-esteem. The narrative patterns focused on were meaning-making (learning from past events) and emotionality of the narratives, specified as overall positive emotional tone and redemptive sequencing. Results showed an age-related increase in meaning-making but no gender differences in the degree of meaning-making. Results further showed that gender predicted self-esteem and that boys evidenced higher self-esteem. Emotionality also predicted self-esteem; this was especially true for redemption and for boys. In terms of telling functions, girls endorsed more relational reasons for telling memories than did boys. Results are discussed in terms of potential gendered and nongendered pathways for identity development in adolescence.
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There is increasing attention to the mechanisms underpinning maladaptive responses to bereavement. This study indexed self-defining memories in bereaved individuals with and without complicated grief (CG). Participants with and without complicated grief (N=40) were asked to describe three self-defining memories. Results showed that CG participants provided more self-defining memories involving the deceased. Both groups were equally likely to report their loved one's death as a self-defining moment, however, the no-CG group showed more evidence of benefit finding in their memory narratives and experienced less negative emotion on recall. The findings suggest that CG is associated with distinctive patterns of autobiographical memory that are linked to self-identity. The pattern is consistent with self-memory system models of autobiographical remembering, and suggests that grieving individuals who experience ongoing yearning for their loved one view their self-identity as more closely linked to the deceased are more distressed by memories involving the loss.
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Relatively little has been written about one group of infants identified with Ainsworth's "Strange Situation" assessment of infant-parent attachment, those classified insecure/ambivalent. Although virtually all samples contain some insecure/ambivalent infants, these infants are uncommon, comprising 7%-15% of most American samples. Recently developed assessments of attachment in children and adults have identified attachment groups of older individuals thought to parallel the insecure/ambivalent infant group. Empirical work in which insecure/ambivalent individuals are examined as a separate group is reviewed within the context of attachment theory, and a coherent picture emerges of the antecedents (relatively low or inconsistent maternal availability; biological vulnerability) and sequelae (limited exploratory competence) of this group. This picture is used as the basis for additional theoretical proposals, and suggestions for future research are presented.
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It has been proposed that certain adverse early experiences may play a role in determining subsequent susceptibility to adult anxiety and affective disorders and this relationship may be the result of altered neurodevelopment of the noradrenergic and/or serotonergic systems. In this study of nonhuman primates, the predictability of foraging requirements for mothers during an early period of their infants' lives was manipulated. When the offspring were young adults, these early manipulations were related to differences in behavioral response to acute administration of two putative anxiety-provoking agents: the noradrenergic probe, yohimbine, and the serotonergic probe, mCPP. These long-term effects of the developmental environment on subsequent pharmacological responsivity suggest that both neuronal systems may be permanently altered by early experiential factors.
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Brain development is affected by stress early in development. Activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis plays a role in mediating the effects of adversity on the developing brain. The impact of glucocorticoids on brain development has been studied in animal models. The literature linking activity of the HPA axis to memory, attention, and emotion in human children is briefly reviewed. Evidence for decreased reactivity of the HPA system developing over the first year of life is presented. Finally, the role of sensitive and responsive caregiving in buffering reactivity of the HPA system to potentially stressful events is described. It is argued that these data provide yet more support for the importance of fostering safe, secure care for children early in their development.
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Neuroscience is witnessing growing interest in understanding brain mechanisms of memory formation for emotionally arousing events, a development closely related to renewed interest in the concept of memory consolidation. Extensive research in animals implicates stress hormones and the amygdaloid complex as key, interacting modulators of memory consolidation for emotional events. Considerable evidence suggests that the amygdala is not a site of long-term explicit or declarative memory storage, but serves to influence memory-storage processes in other brain regions, such as the hippocampus, striatum and neocortex. Human-subject studies confirm the prediction of animal work that the amygdala is involved with the formation of enhanced declarative memory for emotionally arousing events.
Article
Employing a quasi-experimental design, this study explored the long-term effects of different childrearing ecological contexts. Participants were 131 adolescents (aged 16-18) from four groups: some who lived in a city, some from a kibbutz familial setting, some from a kibbutz communal setting, and a transitional group that included adolescents raised in a communal setting as young children who moved to a familial sleeping arrangement before the age of six. Adolescents' state of mind with regard to attachment and representations regarding separation were examined. Participants were administered the Adult Attachment Interview, the Separation Anxiety Test, and background questionnaires. The group raised in a communal setting in the kibbutz showed a higher incidence of nonautonomous attachment representations and less competent coping with imagined separations than did the other groups. By contrast, the transitional group was comparable to the city and the kibbutz familial groups. These results are discussed in light of the plasticity and adaptability of children to changed circumstances.
Article
Beginning in infancy, people can be characterized in terms of two dimensions of attachment insecurity: attachment anxiety (i.e., fear of rejection and abandonment) and attachment avoidance (distancing oneself from close others, shunning dependency; Bowlby, J., 1969/1982. Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment, 2nd ed., Basic Books, New York). The capacity for emotion regulation varies with attachment style, such that attachment-anxious individuals become highly emotional when threatened with social rejection or relationship loss, whereas avoidant individuals tend to distance themselves or disengage from emotional situations. In the present study, 20 women participated in an fMRI experiment in which they thought about--and were asked to stop thinking about--various relationship scenarios. When they thought about negative ones (conflict, breakup, death of partner), their level of attachment anxiety was positively correlated with activation in emotion-related areas of the brain (e.g., the anterior temporal pole, implicated in sadness) and inversely correlated with activation in a region associated with emotion regulation (orbitofrontal cortex). This suggests that anxious people react more strongly than non-anxious people to thoughts of loss while under-recruiting brain regions normally used to down-regulate negative emotions. Participants high on avoidance failed to show as much deactivation as less avoidant participants in two brain regions (subcallosal cingulate cortex; lateral prefrontal cortex). This suggests that the avoidant peoples' suppression was less complete or less efficient, in line with results from previous behavioral experiments. These are among the first findings to identify some of the neural processes underlying adult attachment orientations and emotion regulation.
Article
The authors examined the relation between dimensions of attachment and internalizing and externalizing problems in 15- to 16-year-old adolescents (n = 62) who completed the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ; J. Feeney, P. Noller, & M. Hanrahan, 1994) and the Youth Self-Report (YSR; T. M. Achenbach, 1991). In total, the ASQ dimensions accounted for 48% of the variance in scores on the broad YSR internalizing problem scale. Three ASQ dimensions (confidence, discomfort with closeness, preoccupation with relationships) accounted for unique variance. Girls exhibited higher problem scores than did boys even when the authors considered ASQ scores. The authors observed comparable results for the anxious/depressed subscales. The confidence, discomfort, and preoccupation dimensions predicted scores on the withdrawn subscale. The authors observed weak relations or no relations between results on the ASQ and the externalizing problems scale. In conclusion, dimensions of attachment are powerful predictors of internalizing problems in adolescents. The authors discussed the potential cause and effect relationship between attachment variables and self-reported problems.
Article
Cost-efficient prenatal assessments are needed that have the potential to identify those at risk for parent/infant relational problems. With this goal in mind, an additional attachment style description was added to the Relationship Questionnaire (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991), an established self-report attachment measure, to create the Relationship Questionnaire: Clinical Version (RQ-CV). The additional description represents a profoundly-distrustful attachment style: "I think it's a mistake to trust other people. Everyone's looking out for themselves, so the sooner you learn not to expect anything from anybody else the better." The RQ-CV was applied to a sample of 44 low-income mothers who had participated in a previous study of the impact of family risk factors on infant development. After first controlling for demographic risk factors and for other insecure adult attachment styles, mother's profound-distrust was associated with three independent assessments of the quality of maternal interactions with the infant assessed 20 years earlier. In particular, profound-distrust was related to more hostile, intrusive, and negative behaviors toward the infant. The results are discussed within the framework of attachment theory.
Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model
  • K Bartholomew
  • L M Horowitz
Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L.M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.61.2.226
Attachment-style differences in the ability to suppress negative thoughts: Exploring the neural correlates
  • O Gillath
  • S A Bunge
  • P R Shaver
  • C Wendelken
  • M Mikulincer
Gillath, O., Bunge, S.A., Shaver, P.R., Wendelken, C., & Mikulincer, M. (2005). Attachment-style differences in the ability to suppress negative thoughts: Exploring the neural correlates. NeuroImage, 28, 835-847. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage. 2005.06.048