Flashbacks, intrusions, mind-wandering - Instances of an involuntary memory spectrum

A commentary on Takarangi, Strange, and Lindsay (2014)

Thomas Meyer, Henry Otgaar, Tom Smeets

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorScientificpeer-review

Abstract

In their paper, Takarangi, Strange, and Lindsay (2014) showed in two experiments that participants who had witnessed a shocking film frequently "mind-wandered without awareness" about the content of the film. More importantly, they equated this effect with the occurrence of traumatic intrusions. In this commentary, we argue that the authors adhered to conceptually ambiguous terms, and thereby unintentionally contribute to an already existing conceptual blur in the trauma-memory field. We postulate that clear definitions are urgently needed for phenomena such as intrusions, flashbacks, and mind-wandering, when using them in the context of trauma memory. Furthermore, our proposal is that these phenomena can fall under a spectrum of different involuntary memory instances. We propose that by adopting stricter definitions and viewing them as separate, but interrelated phenomena, different lines of trauma-memory research can be reconciled, which would considerably advance the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-29
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Volume33
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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Flashbacks, intrusions, mind-wandering - Instances of an involuntary memory spectrum : A commentary on Takarangi, Strange, and Lindsay (2014). / Meyer, Thomas; Otgaar, Henry; Smeets, Tom.

In: Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 33, 2015, p. 24-29.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorScientificpeer-review

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AB - In their paper, Takarangi, Strange, and Lindsay (2014) showed in two experiments that participants who had witnessed a shocking film frequently "mind-wandered without awareness" about the content of the film. More importantly, they equated this effect with the occurrence of traumatic intrusions. In this commentary, we argue that the authors adhered to conceptually ambiguous terms, and thereby unintentionally contribute to an already existing conceptual blur in the trauma-memory field. We postulate that clear definitions are urgently needed for phenomena such as intrusions, flashbacks, and mind-wandering, when using them in the context of trauma memory. Furthermore, our proposal is that these phenomena can fall under a spectrum of different involuntary memory instances. We propose that by adopting stricter definitions and viewing them as separate, but interrelated phenomena, different lines of trauma-memory research can be reconciled, which would considerably advance the field.

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