Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 545–553 | Cite as

Malignant memories: Post-traumatic changes in memory in adults after a school shooting

  • Eitan D. Schwarz
  • Janice M. Kowalski
  • Richard J. McNally
Brief Report

Abstract

The study explores changes in retrospective reports of experiences after a man-made disaster. Six and 18 months after a school shooting, 12 school personnel recalled in identical self-report questionnaires their proximity to the site, and emotional, including life threat, and sensory experiences the day of the incident. All changed some aspect of their recall on retest. Those close to the shooting increased and those far decreased their reported proximity to the site; and most respondents both enlarged and diminished at the same time reports of specific emotional, life threat, and sensory experiences. Enlargement on retest appeared associated with PTSD symptoms, while diminishment with lessening of anxiety and depression and increase in self confidence. The authors offer these preliminary findings for further inquiry into the biopsychological basis of post-traumatic memory.

Key Words

memory post-traumatic reactions PTSD recall severity 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eitan D. Schwarz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Janice M. Kowalski
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard J. McNally
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Evanston, HospitalEvanston
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryNorthwestern University Medical SchoolChicago
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridge

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