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Abstract

The characteristics and organization of memories from World War II (WWII) were examined in relation to posttraumatic stress reactions. In Study 1, 145 Danes recalled and rated four memories from WWII. They rated the WWII period for posttraumatic stress reactions and importance to identity and life story. Memory clarity, rehearsal and consequences correlated positively with posttraumatic stress reactions and with WWII importance to identity and life story. In Study 2, a subgroup of 58 participants nominated five life story memories, divided their life story into chapters and rated WWII for posttraumatic stress reactions and importance to identity and life story. Posttraumatic stress reactions correlated positively with percentage of life story chapters about WWII, the tendency to connect non-WWII memories with the WWII period and subjective clarity and rehearsal of WWII memories. The results contradict the idea that posttraumatic stress reactions are associated with vague and poorly integrated trauma memories. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.