Autobiographical memory, interpersonal problem solving, and suicidal behavior in adolescent inpatients

Miri Arie, Alan Apter, Israel Orbach, Yael Yefet, Gil Zalzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The aim of the study was to test Williams' (Williams JMG. Depression and the specificity of autobiographical memory. In: Rubin D, ed. Remembering Our Past: Studies in Autobiographical Memory. London: Cambridge University Press; 1996:244-267.) theory of suicidal behavior in adolescents and young adults by examining the relationship among suicidal behaviors, defective ability to retrieve specific autobiographical memories, impaired interpersonal problem solving, negative life events, repression, and hopelessness. Methods: Twenty-five suicidal adolescent and young adult inpatients (16.5 y ± 2.5) were compared with 25 nonsuicidal adolescent and young adult inpatients (16.5 y ± 2.5) and 25 healthy controls. Autobiographical memory was tested by a word association test; problem solving by the means-ends problem solving technique; negative life events by the Coddington scale; repression by the Life Style Index; hopelessness by the Beck scale; suicidal risk by the Plutchik scale, and suicide attempt by clinical history. Results: Impairment in the ability to produce specific autobiographical memories, difficulties with interpersonal problem solving, negative life events, and repression were all associated with hopelessness and suicidal behavior. There were significant correlations among all the variables except for repression and negative life events. Conclusions: These findings support Williams' notion that generalized autobiographical memory is associated with deficits in interpersonal problem solving, negative life events, hopelessness, and suicidal behavior. The finding that defects in autobiographical memory are associated with suicidal behavior in adolescents and young adults may lead to improvements in the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy in this age group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

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