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An Exploratory Study of Repressive Coping and Attentional Bias in Detained Patients Claiming Psychogenic Amnesia of a Violent Interpersonal Offense.

Rigg, Allison. (2002) An Exploratory Study of Repressive Coping and Attentional Bias in Detained Patients Claiming Psychogenic Amnesia of a Violent Interpersonal Offense. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

Aims: Individuals with a repressive coping style display an impoverished memory for emotional events and negative autobiographical memories from childhood and adulthood (Davis 1987; Myers & Brewin 1994; Myers 2000). Claims of amnesia frequently occur following the commission of a violent crime (Schacter 1986a; Kopelman 1995, Gudjonsson 1999). It has been claimed that up to 70% of all offenders who have committed a violent interpersonal offense experience some forgetting of the event, termed psychogenic amnesia (Kopelman 1995). It most frequently occurs following the killing of a loved one or friend, and when the offense is unpremeditated (Kopelman 1995). It has been suggested that contributory factors in psychogenic amnesia may be the repression of memories and limited encoding of the event (Kopelman 1995). The current research project aimed to investigate the presence of a repressive coping style and a selective attentional bias in offenders in a maximum-security hospital who claimed an experience of psychogenic amnesia related to the commission of a violent interpersonal offence. Method: A study is described which identified two groups of male participants in a maximum security hospital, those with psychogenic amnesia (n=15) and a group of non-amnesic participants (n=T5). The presence of a repressive coping style was investigated, using the Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Crowne & Marlow, 1964) and the short form of the Manifest Anxiety Scale (Bendig, 1956). Selective attentional responses to threat stimuli were assessed using the dot probe task, in the repressor and non-repressor groups. Additional questionnaires were employed. It was hypothesized that repressive coping style would be more prevalent in the amnesic group and that repressors would show a selective attentional bias away from threat stimuli. Results: The study identified that there were significantly more repressors in the amnesic group (80% n=12). However the hypothesis related to selective attentional deployment was only partially as predicted. Repressors deployed attention away from social threat stimuli, but not from offense related stimuli as predicted. Discussion: The findings of this study appear to support the observations of Myers (2000), that individuals with a repressive coping style are more likely to forget previous experiences of negative and traumatic events. Repressive coping style was significantly more prevalent in participants claiming an experience of psychogenic amnesia of their index offense, than for those who had complete memory of the event. Those with a repressive coping style showed an attentional bias away from social threat, but not for offense related threat stimuli. Implications of the research, its limitations, and suggestions for the future were discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Rigg, Allison.
Date : 2002
Additional Information : Thesis (Psych.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2002.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 06 May 2020 14:37
Last Modified : 06 May 2020 14:43
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/856296

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