The role of overgeneral memories in PTSD and implications for treatment.

Development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following trauma exposure has been linked to increased reliance on overgeneral memory (OGM; Bryant, Sutherland, & Guthrie, 2007). OGM is a form of autobiographical memory in which the individual recalls a nonspecific, categorical representation that encompasses many related events distributed over time (e.g., going to a restaurant), as opposed to retrieving a discrete, specific memory (e.g., breakfast in the hotel restaurant this morning). This article provides a very brief synopsis of the theoretical models (Williams et al., 2007), neurobiological underpinnings (e.g., Vermetten, Vythilingam, Southwick, Charney, & Bremner, 2003), animal studies (Monfils, Cowansage, Klann, & LeDoux, 2009), and preclinical studies with humans (Schiller et al., 2010) that underscore the utility of targeting improved memory specificity in the treatment of individuals with PTSD. Recent findings from small clinical trials providing memory specificity training have demonstrated reductions in OGM as well as reductions in PTSD symptoms (Maxwell et al., 2016; Moradi, Abdi, Fathi-Ashtiani, Dalgleish, & Jobson, 2012). Moreover, in a comparative trial, PTSD symptom reduction was attained in half the dosage (i.e., number of sessions) required by an established treatment (cognitive processing therapy) to reach the same effectiveness (Maxwell et al., 2016). This article provides assimilative integrative psychotherapists with a session-by-session road map for use in incorporating memory specificity training techniques to address symptoms of PTSD. This emerging treatment may be particularly useful for use with resistant or refractory clients. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)