Imagery Rescripting of Aversive Autobiographical Memories: Effects on Memory Distress, Emotions, and Feelings of Mastery

  • Miriam StrohmEmail author
  • Marena Siegesleitner
  • Anna E. Kunze
  • Thomas Ehring
  • Charlotte E. Wittekind
Original Article


Imagery rescripting (ImRs) has been shown to be a promising intervention for aversive emotional memories, but research on underlying mechanisms is only in its beginnings. Previous analogue studies on ImRs were mainly based on the trauma film paradigm, but the personal relevance of film-induced memories is limited. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the effects of ImRs on personally relevant autobiographical memories. Sixty-five participants who had experienced a distressing life-event were randomly assigned to ImRs or no-intervention control (NIC). ImRs led to less intrusive memories than NIC during the 1-week follow-up period, but was not superior in reducing overall event-related stress symptoms. When retrieving the memory after 1 week, ImRs participants reported greater reductions in sadness and distress, and higher feelings of mastery. Findings underline the potential of the paradigm used in this study to test memory processes involved in ImRs. Limitations and modifications of the paradigm are discussed.


Imagery rescripting Emotional memories Traumatic memories Autobiographical memories Mastery Memory distress Posttraumatic stress disorder 



The authors kindly thank Ellen Dapperger and Gabriele Fertl for their support during data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Miriam Strohm, Marena Siegesleitner, Anna E. Kunze, Thomas Ehring and Charlotte E. Wittekind declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10608_2019_10021_MOESM1_ESM.doc (468 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 468 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam Strohm
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marena Siegesleitner
    • 1
  • Anna E. Kunze
    • 1
  • Thomas Ehring
    • 1
  • Charlotte E. Wittekind
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLMU MunichMunichGermany

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