Effects of Childhood Abuse on Overgeneral Autobiographical Memory in Current Major Depressive Disorder

James W. Griffith*, Stephan Claes, Titia Hompes, Elske Vrieze, Stefanie Vermote, Elise Debeer, Bert Lenaert, Filip Raes, Dirk Hermans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In a sample of adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder (N = 77), we examined the relationship between overgeneral autobiographical memory and childhood physical and sexual abuse. We hypothesised that childhood abuse would be related to retrieving fewer specific autobiographical memories, even after statistically covarying psychopathology-related variables, including posttraumatic stress disorder and depression severity. Our hypotheses were supported for childhood physical abuse but not for childhood sexual abuse. Childhood physical abuse was related to the recall of fewer specific memories on the Autobiographical Memory Test. No significant association, however, emerged between the Autobiographical Memory Test and childhood sexual trauma. Directions for future research include prospective designs as well as further examination of trauma characteristics (e.g., age of onset) and means by which individuals cope with trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-782
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Childhood trauma
  • Depression
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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