Forging a Deeper Understanding of Flashbacks: Part II

Understanding Flashbacks: Part II – from Paul F. Dell

Understanding Dissociation

Flashbacks have at least four striking features:

1. Flashbacks are experiential, marked by a sense of reliving, accompanied by sensations and affects).

2. Flashbacks are distinctly fragmentary.

3. Flashbacks are autonomous and involuntary.

4. Flashbacks are frequently associated with dissociative amnesia.

In this post, I will focus solely on the first of these — the experiential/reliving quality of flashbacks.

Why Are Flashbacks Experiential Rather Than Cognitive?

Perhaps the best current answer to this question comes from Chris Brewin in England (Brewin, Gregory, Lipton & Burgess, 2010). Brewin is one of the leading cognitive psychologists in the world. He has been studying PTSD and its intrusive symptoms for the last 15 years or so (see also Brewin, Dalgleich & Joseph, 1996). Brewin proposes that humans have two memory systems for episodic and autobiographical memory: (1) a contextual memory system that represents an event via abstract, contextually-bound…

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4 thoughts on “Forging a Deeper Understanding of Flashbacks: Part II

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