Reconstructing Trauma Memories: A Prospective Study of “Amnesic” Trauma Survivors
- Cite this article as:
- Harvey, A.G. & Bryant, R.A. J Trauma Stress (2001) 14: 277. doi:10.1023/A:1011108816888
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The purpose of this study was to investigate memory for trauma in patients who were initially amnesic of the trauma as a result of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). Motor vehicle accident survivors who sustained a MTBI were assessed for their memory within 1-month posttrauma (n = 79) and again at 2-years posttrauma (n = 50). Consistent with their brain injury, all patients reported significant amnesia of their accident at initial assessment. At 2-years posttrauma, 40% were able to remember their accident. Reporting memory for the trauma was associated with shorter duration of posttraumatic amnesia. These findings suggest that people reconstruct memories of trauma in the absence of complete encoding of the experience. Possible mechanisms for memory reconstruction are considered.