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Normal Memory Versus Traumatic Memory Formation: Does Traumatic Stress Damage the Brain?

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations Volume: 6 Issue: 2 Dated: 2006 Pages: 65-78
Shriley Amanda McPherson-Sexton M.S.
Date Published
14 pages
This paper explores the differences between ordinary (narrative) and traumatic memory.
The current model of traumatic memory shows that the extreme emotional arousal inhibits the hippocampus (one of the major brain structures involved in the memory process) in the processing of explicit memories. Thus, the traumatic memories are well reserved in implicit memory, such as vivid images, sensations, and feelings, but not in explicit memory as a narrative that one can later verbalize. The function of memory is embedded in the context of emotions and motivations with regions involved in processing memory also involved in process affective information. The idea that traumatic memory is special and involves processes that are distinct from ordinary memory began with psychiatrists like Freud. With that said, many victims of trauma have been found to be reluctant to discuss their traumatic experiences, lending credibility to the idea that the more severe the abuse, the less likely it will be remembered. This paper explores the research findings on traumatic memories, and whether traumatic memories are special in nature. References