Are rape memories different? A comparison of rape, other unpleasant, and pleasant memories among employed women

Shannon Tromp, Mary P Koss, Aurelio J Figueredo, Melinda Tharan

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Abstract

The study examined empirically-measured memory characteristics, compared pleasant and unpleasant intense memories as well as rape and other unpleasant memories, and determined whether rape memories exhibited significantly more "flashbulb" characteristics. Data consisted of responses to a mailed survey of women employees of a medical center (N=1,037) and a university (N=2,142). Pleasant and unpleasant memories were differentiated by feelings, consequences, and level of unexpectedness. The most powerful discriminator of rape from other unpleasant memories was the degree to which they were less clear and vivid, contained a less meaningful order, were less well-remembered, and were less thought and talked about. Few "flashbulb" characteristics discriminated among memory types. Implications for clinical work with rape survivors were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-627
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1995

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Keywords

  • forensic psychology
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • rape
  • traumatic memories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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