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Characterization of Self-Defining Memories in Individuals with Severe Alcohol Use Disorders After Mid-Term Abstinence: The Impact of the Emotional Valence of Memories

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Self-defining memories (SDM) are distinguished from other autobiographical memory (AM) processes to delineate those associated with the sense of personal identity and continuity in one's individual history. With chronic alcohol consumption, the construction of such memories may be modified in terms of specificity, valence, meaning-making, and evoked topics. This study sought to characterize SDM in a population of 27 patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD) who had been abstinent for at least 2 months compared with 28 control participants. METHODS: Besides cognitive and clinical assessment, participants were told to describe verbally and date 5 SDM and their narratives were recorded. For each memory, 5 dimensions were evaluated: level of specificity, emotional valence, integration of meaning, topics, and distance of memory in time. RESULTS: Overall, SDM of participants with AUD were specifically characterized by (i) low specificity, (ii) low integration, (iii) a predominance of memories with negative emotional valence and a low frequency of positive memories, and (iv) a low frequency of topics related to success. When different dimensions of the SDM were crossed, their characteristics depended mainly on the valence of the memory. Negative memories were more frequent, more specific and more integrated, while positive SDM were less frequent, less specific and less integrated. CONCLUSIONS: The results underline the construction of a form of SDM with drinking problems that is mainly characterized by the disruption of positive memory and the presence of highly specific and integrated negative experiences. A disruption of the integration process modulated by the valence of memories could have repercussions on maintaining a sense of personal identity, the pursuit of personal goals and on social adaptability, and could constitute one of the main risks associated with persistent drinking problems. These results highlight the relevance of developing AM training programs for patients with AUD.
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https://hal.univ-lille.fr/hal-02383836
Contributeur : Lilloa Université de Lille <>
Soumis le : jeudi 28 novembre 2019 - 09:12:21
Dernière modification le : vendredi 29 novembre 2019 - 02:30:45

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Jean Louis Nandrino, Marie Charlotte Gandolphe. Characterization of Self-Defining Memories in Individuals with Severe Alcohol Use Disorders After Mid-Term Abstinence: The Impact of the Emotional Valence of Memories. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 2017, Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 41 (8), pp.1484-1491. ⟨10.1111/acer.13424⟩. ⟨hal-02383836⟩

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