The relationship between developmental experiences, and an individual's emerging beliefs about themselves and the world, is central to many forms of psychotherapy. People suffering from a variety of mental health problems have been shown to use negative memories when defining the self; however, little is known about how these negative memories might be organised and relate to negative self-images. In two online studies with middle-aged (N = 18; study 1) and young (N = 56; study 2) adults, we found that participants' negative self-images (e.g., I am a failure) were associated with sets of autobiographical memories that formed clustered distributions around times of self-formation, in much the same pattern as for positive self-images (e.g., I am talented). This novel result shows that highly organised sets of salient memories may be responsible for perpetuating negative beliefs about the self. Implications for therapy are discussed.
Rathbone, CSteel, C
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health
Year of publication: 2015Date of RADAR deposit: 2016-01-27
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