Memory for Complex Emotional Material in Dissociative Identity Disorder

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Eleven women with dissociative identity disorder (DID) participated in an experiment that included a variety of memory measures. DID participants were faster than a group of 13 female students at producing autobiographical memories in response to cue words. DID participants had difficulty answering detailed questions about a story containing fear compared with a neutral story; the student group did not. The DID group reported experiencing significantly more childhood trauma than did the student group. Effect sizes were moderate to high. This preliminary study uses a broad conceptualization of memory functioning, combining ecologically valid testing with experimental paradigms and addressing the impact of emotion on memory in trauma survivors.