Placing the Mnemonic Model in Context: Diagnostic, Theoretical, and Clinical Considerations

Scott M. Monroe*, Susan Mineka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The mnemonic model of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) proposed by D. C. Rubin, D. Berntsen, and M. K. Bohni (2008) presents some provocative and potentially insightful ideas about this mental disorder. D. C. Rubin et al. suggested that PTSD is caused and maintained through a "pathogenic memory" (D. C. Rubin et al., 2008, p. 985) of a negative event rather than by exposure to a traumatic event per se. The present authors examine the mnemonic model in the context of relevant diagnostic, theoretical, and clinical considerations. Specifically, to evaluate the arguments and evidence provided in support of the mnemonic model of PTSD, the present authors focus on 4 issues: (a) problems inherent with comparing a theoretical model (i.e., the mnemonic model) with a diagnostic model (i.e., the DSM-IV-TR model), (b) problems with not comparing the mnemonic model with relevant cognitive and memory models of PTSD, (c) problems with the degree to which the research reviewed provides support for the mnemonic model, and (d) concerns that memory in PTSD is confounded with the basic disorder, rather than causing PTSD. The present authors conclude with suggestions for future theory and research to help differentiate between memory's role in the origins of PTSD and memory's role in the clinical course of the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1096
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • classification and diagnosis
  • life events
  • memory
  • posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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