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Autobiographical memory functioning among abused, neglected, and nonmaltreated children: the overgeneral memory effect


  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

Kristin Valentino, Yale Child Study Center, 230 S. Frontage Rd., New Haven, CT 06520, USA; Email:


Background:  This investigation addresses whether there are differences in the form and content of autobiographical memory recall as a function of maltreatment, and examines the roles of self-system functioning and psychopathology in autobiographical memory processes.

Methods:  Autobiographical memory for positive and negative nontraumatic events was evaluated among abused, neglected, and nonmaltreated school-aged children.

Results:  Abused children’s memories were more overgeneral and contained more negative self-representations than did those of the nonmaltreated children. Negative self-representations and depression were significantly related to overgeneral memory, but did not mediate the relation between abuse and overgeneral memory.

Conclusions:  The meaning of these findings for models of memory and for the development of overgenerality is emphasized. Moreover, the clinical implications of the current research are discussed.