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Peritraumatic Reactions and Intrusive Memories among Disaster Survivors: A Mixed Methods Investigation

Massazza, Alessandro; (2021) Peritraumatic Reactions and Intrusive Memories among Disaster Survivors: A Mixed Methods Investigation. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Intrusive memories represent a hallmark symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cognitive theories of PTSD hypothesize that intrusive memories result from disruptions in information processing during traumatic memory encoding. The affective, cognitive, and behavioural reactions taking place during trauma have been termed peritraumatic reactions. These include reactions such as peritraumatic dissociation and tonic immobility. Experimental evidence has supported the theoretical claims concerning the role of peritraumatic reactions in the development of intrusive memories. This literature, however, presents a number of limitations. First, it relies on a conceptualisation of peritraumatic reactions based largely on quantitative measures with a large degree of conceptual overlap. Secondly, the identification of peritraumatic reactions has relied on clinical expertise, theory, and animal models, rather than on systematic investigations of survivors’ lived experience. Finally, studies on peritraumatic reactions and intrusive memories, have generally assessed peritraumatic reactions for the entire trauma rather than for the specific moments experienced as intrusive memories. This thesis set out to address these limitations. Firstly, I investigated the factorial structure of the six most widely used peritraumatic measures. This led to the identification of a psychometrically validated model comprising five distinct peritraumatic reactions. Secondly, I explored using a largely inductive analytical framework the lived experienced of peritraumatic reactions spontaneously reported in interviews. Finally, building on these findings, I confirmed the theory-informed claims that the specific moments of a trauma experienced as intrusive memories would be characterised by higher levels of peritraumatic reactions compared to moments from the same trauma that did not intrude. All research was conducted among earthquake survivors. The current findings hold various implications for the conceptualisation of peritraumatic reactions and intrusive memories. Additionally, they have a number of practical implications for the prevention and management of intrusive memories as well as for the wellbeing of disaster survivors more generally.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Peritraumatic Reactions and Intrusive Memories among Disaster Survivors: A Mixed Methods Investigation
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10119431
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