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Memories recalled from the field, or first person, perspective tend to be specific, more detail-oriented, and emotional. In contrast, memories from the observer, or third person, perspective, tend to be more general, less detail-oriented and emotional. Research suggests that individuals with a history of suicidality exhibit over-general autobiographical memories (i.e., lacking in detail). We propose that individuals with a history of suicidality may encode and recall memories more from the observer perspective, which is associated with recalling fewer details about events. This hypothesis was tested by examining the memory perspectives of 107 young adults with and without symptoms of suicidality during task and event recall. Compared to controls, suicide attempters recalled tasks and neutral events significantly less from the observer perspective and more from the field perspective; suicide ideators and controls were not significantly different on recall perspectives. No significant differences in negative event and suicide attempt recall were found across groups. Results indicated that suicide attempters exhibited a recall bias towards first person, internally focused memories. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
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- Autobiographical Memory Perspectives in Task and Suicide Attempt Recall: A Study of Young Adults With and Without Symptoms of Suicidality
Jennifer M. Buchman-Schmitt
Thomas E. Joiner
- Springer US