CSEL Journal Papers

Overgeneral memory in asylum seekers and refugees

This paper demonstrates that overgeneral memory is present for asylum seekers and refugees with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression.

Graham, B., Herlihy, J. & Brewin, Chris R. (2014). Overgeneral memory in asylum seekers and refugees. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 45 375-380

This paper explores whether the association between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and overgeneral memory (OGM) found by some studies of people from Western cultures might also be valid in non-Western populations.

We recruited 38 asylum seekers and refugees from 18 different non-Western countries, through clinics and community groups. We administered a standard test of autobiographical memory specificity and assessed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression. We know from many studies over more than 20 years that when people are depressed and/or have PTSD they find it more difficult to recall specific memories (events that happened in a specific place on a particular date). This study showed this to be equally true for people seeking asylum from non-western countries. Furthermore, those refugees and asylum seekers with PTSD failed more frequently to report any memory at all. This study adds to a growing literature suggesting that being recognised as a refugee fleeing persecution is more difficult for those with post-traumatic symptoms and depression.

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