Experience of Life Events and their Representation in the Autobiographical Memory: Reproduction or Reconstruction

  • Larysa V. Zasiekina Eastern European National University named after Lesya Ukrainka
Keywords: autobiographical memory, life events (emotionally positive, emotionally negative and traumatic), PTSD, propositional structure


The autobiographical and traumatic memory is often identified in the psychological literature. It determines the lack of differentiation of traumatic and negative life events. Therefore the traumatic memory is often viewed as PTSD and is notanalyzed as the type of memory without distortions and pathology. We propose the psycholinguistic approach to study emotionally positive, emotionally negative and traumatic events. The psycholinguistic criteria (number of words, number of sentences, length of sentences, lexical density) and propositional structures (external/internal agents, relations, external/internal objects, time, place) were proposed for experimental study. The predominance of external agent in traumatic events vs. emotionally negative and emotionally positive events representations were revealed. It is line with the higher indices of internal objects in the traumatic events vs. emotionally negative and emotionally positive events in the both samples with and without PTSD. It shows the focus of attention on different objective factors and other subjects of the traumatic events and traumatic situations. Moreover the passive role of self is expressed. It can decrease the personal responsibility for traumatic event serves as psychological defense for avoiding and complex of guilt. The indices of time are higher in the traumatic narratives among individuals without PTSD. It can be connected with objective view of traumatic situation, absence of cognitive distortions and avoiding PTSD. The external agents and internal objects in traumatic events representation are accompanied with the higher number of sentences in the both samples with and without PTSD, which proves the idea about vividness and easiness of traumatic events recalling. The results show that representation and recalling the life events is rather active reconstruction than passive reproduction.


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Zasiekina, L. V. (2016). Experience of Life Events and their Representation in the Autobiographical Memory: Reproduction or Reconstruction. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, (20(1), 65-77. Retrieved from https://psycholing-journal.com/index.php/journal/article/view/94