Research Topic

Autobiographical Memory, Narrative Identity, and Mental Health

About this Research Topic

There is a recent trend to study the content, structure, and function of autobiographical memories produced by people suffering from various types of mental health disorders, such as mood disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia spectrum disorder, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder. Research has demonstrated that when people suffer from such disorders, the core features of their autobiographical narratives, such as specificity, affective tone, and meaning-making are impaired. Enhanced autobiographical memory specificity is the indicator of healthy narrative identity and affective content of autobiographical memories is linked with psychological well-being. The ability to step back from life narratives and extract meaning from life experiences, meaning establishing a “self-event connection” is arguably associated with overall mental health. Researchers and clinicians are now trying to understand the underlying processes of how a healthy autobiographical memory system leads to a coherent and flexible narrative identity, which in turn promotes positive mental health by providing an ongoing sense of unity and direction.

The current topic area faces three-fold challenges. First, theoretical; we need to understand with further depth the intricate relationship between the self, narrative identity and mental health. Research should confirm if impaired mental health leads to the diminished narrative identity or vice versa. Second, therapeutic; there is a need to devise appropriate therapeutic interventions that reduce disease symptomatology targeting patients’ coherent and flexible narrative identity. Third, methodological; there is a lack of standardized tools to assess a patient’s autobiographical memory and identity. Therefore, this Research Topic will focus on empirical work investigating how mental health disorders lead to the impaired autobiographical memory system and report any novel therapeutic interventions that could improve symptomatology by targeting the self-memory system. It will also include research focusing on the development of assessment tools for autobiographical memory, self and narrative identity, particularly tailored for people with mental health disorders. The topic will also consider reviews of published work on impairment of autobiographical memories in any type of mental health disorder.

We welcome submissions that address any of the following topics/themes:
• Theoretical discussion of autobiographical memory, self, and mental health;
• Development and application of therapeutic interventions on patients with impaired autobiographical memory and self;
• Empirical research focusing on autobiographical memory specificity, coherence, emotional valence, and meaning-making in any kind of patients with mental health disorders (including transdiagnostic);
• Improving memory specificity and coherence in people with mental health disorders through structured interview protocols with specific cues, cognitive training, and rehabilitation;
• Development or adaptation of assessment tools to examine individual differences in autobiographical memory, self, narrative identity, and generational identity;
• Examining the differential effects of cuing techniques, such as word cuing method, important memory method, life chapter method, and free-recall method on autobiographical memory recall in individuals with mental health disorders;
• Exploring how impaired autobiographical memory relates to other cognitive processes, such as rumination, avoidance, and problem-solving;
• Cross-cultural research on autobiographical memory in people with mental health disorders;
• Memory training approaches and mechanisms of change in emotion and symptomatology;
• Longitudinal studies on content and appraisals of autobiographical memories in individuals with mental health disorders


Keywords: autobiographical memory, narrative identity, mental health, self-development, cuing techniques, assessment tools, therapeutic interventions, longitudinal study, cross-cultural study


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

There is a recent trend to study the content, structure, and function of autobiographical memories produced by people suffering from various types of mental health disorders, such as mood disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia spectrum disorder, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder. Research has demonstrated that when people suffer from such disorders, the core features of their autobiographical narratives, such as specificity, affective tone, and meaning-making are impaired. Enhanced autobiographical memory specificity is the indicator of healthy narrative identity and affective content of autobiographical memories is linked with psychological well-being. The ability to step back from life narratives and extract meaning from life experiences, meaning establishing a “self-event connection” is arguably associated with overall mental health. Researchers and clinicians are now trying to understand the underlying processes of how a healthy autobiographical memory system leads to a coherent and flexible narrative identity, which in turn promotes positive mental health by providing an ongoing sense of unity and direction.

The current topic area faces three-fold challenges. First, theoretical; we need to understand with further depth the intricate relationship between the self, narrative identity and mental health. Research should confirm if impaired mental health leads to the diminished narrative identity or vice versa. Second, therapeutic; there is a need to devise appropriate therapeutic interventions that reduce disease symptomatology targeting patients’ coherent and flexible narrative identity. Third, methodological; there is a lack of standardized tools to assess a patient’s autobiographical memory and identity. Therefore, this Research Topic will focus on empirical work investigating how mental health disorders lead to the impaired autobiographical memory system and report any novel therapeutic interventions that could improve symptomatology by targeting the self-memory system. It will also include research focusing on the development of assessment tools for autobiographical memory, self and narrative identity, particularly tailored for people with mental health disorders. The topic will also consider reviews of published work on impairment of autobiographical memories in any type of mental health disorder.

We welcome submissions that address any of the following topics/themes:
• Theoretical discussion of autobiographical memory, self, and mental health;
• Development and application of therapeutic interventions on patients with impaired autobiographical memory and self;
• Empirical research focusing on autobiographical memory specificity, coherence, emotional valence, and meaning-making in any kind of patients with mental health disorders (including transdiagnostic);
• Improving memory specificity and coherence in people with mental health disorders through structured interview protocols with specific cues, cognitive training, and rehabilitation;
• Development or adaptation of assessment tools to examine individual differences in autobiographical memory, self, narrative identity, and generational identity;
• Examining the differential effects of cuing techniques, such as word cuing method, important memory method, life chapter method, and free-recall method on autobiographical memory recall in individuals with mental health disorders;
• Exploring how impaired autobiographical memory relates to other cognitive processes, such as rumination, avoidance, and problem-solving;
• Cross-cultural research on autobiographical memory in people with mental health disorders;
• Memory training approaches and mechanisms of change in emotion and symptomatology;
• Longitudinal studies on content and appraisals of autobiographical memories in individuals with mental health disorders


Keywords: autobiographical memory, narrative identity, mental health, self-development, cuing techniques, assessment tools, therapeutic interventions, longitudinal study, cross-cultural study


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Abstract
31 October 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Abstract
31 October 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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