Narrative complexity moderates the relation of negative memories to mental illness across the lifespan

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    This study assesses whether aspects of narrative complexity moderate the relation of negative memories to symptoms of mental illness. Aspects of narrative complexity include the description of vivid memories of specific events in one’s life and the meaningful integration of negative memories into narrative identity. The present study employed a subsample of a representative online study (N=269; age 16-90) to assess these relationships in different age groups. Instruments used were the self-defining memory test and the hospital anxiety and depression scale. The memories were reliably coded for evaluation, specificity, and integration. More negatively evaluated memories were related to more symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, these relations were not found when participants storied their memories in both specific and integrated ways. As no age differences were found, we conclude that narrative complexity plays an important role in coping with negative memories across the lifespan.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)407-407
    Number of pages1
    JournalThe Gerontologist
    Issue numberSuppl. 1
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2013
    Event66th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Gerontological Society of America 2013: Optimal Aging Through Research - New Orleans, United States
    Duration: 20 Nov 201324 Nov 2013
    Conference number: 66


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