Memories are indispensable for individuals as well as social groups. Forgetting not only means loss of functioning but also loss of identity. Memories can also be hurting and cause problems, as research on posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD) has shown. This is true for individuals as well as social groups and even societies. Memories and especially negative memories can escape the control of the individual. Many political conflicts can only be understood when taking history and memories into account.

In this volume a comprehensive scientific overview is given on the development of "hurting memories" in individuals and societies. Consequences are described, i.e. from mental disorders in individuals, like PTSD or other neurotic disorders, to societal tensions and conflicts, from South Africa to Northern Europe. Additionally, "beneficial forgetting" is discussed, from treatments of individuals to reconciliation between social groups. The contrasting of "hurting memories and beneficial forgetting" can help to understand, that memories can have positive and negative results and that it is difficult to decide when to support memories and when forgetting.

Key Features

Bringing individual and societal memories in coincetion - the benefit is a new perspective on the interactrion between individuals and society.
Pointing to possible negative consequences of memory - the benefit is a new perspective of an important but under recognized scientific and clinical problem.
Presenting modes of treatment and reconciliation for individuals and social groups - an overview which can not be found elsewhere.


German Psychiatric Association (DGPPN, Deutsche Gesellschaft für PSychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Nervenheilkunde)
German Behavior Therapy Association (DVT, Deutcher Fachverband für Verhaltenstherapie)
World Psychiatric Assocation

Table of Contents


List of Contributors

Part One: Basic Aspects

1. Spectrum of Persisting Memories and Pseudomemories, Distortions, and Psychopathology

1.1 Memory Distortions and Beneficial Forgetting

1.2 Spectrum of Psychopathological Memories, Thoughts, Images, Associations, and the Like

1.3 Features and Development of Pathological Memories

1.4 Conclusion


2. Electrophysiological Signature of Emotional Memories

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Studying Emotional Memory in the Laboratory

2.3 ERPs and Memory Retrieval

2.4 Electrophysiological Correlates of Emotional Memory Retrieval

2.5 ERPs of Emotional Memory After Long Retention Intervals

2.6 Adrenergic Activation and the ERP Old/New Effect for Emotional Contents

2.7 Neural Generators of the Parietal Old/New Effect for Emotional Pictures

2.8 Conclusions


3. Pharmacological Approaches to Understand, Prevent, and Mitigate Hurting Memories. Lessons from Posttraumatic Stress Disorders

3.1 Trauma and Psychological Models of Traumatic Memory

3.2 Neurobiological Underpinnings of Trauma Memory Encoding, Consolidation, Retrieval, and Extinction

3.3 Principal Pharmacological Strategies to Mitigate or Prevent Traumatic Memory: Results from Empirical Studies

3.4 Conclusions


4. Memory and Social Meaning: The Impact of Society and Culture on Traumatic Memories

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Szechuan Earthquake

4.3 World War II

4.4 Spanish Civil War Memory

4.5 Analysis


5. Retraumatization: The Vicious Circle of Intrusive Memory

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Trauma and PTSD

5.3 The Phenomenology of Traumatic Memory: Basic Principles of Psychobiology and the Fear Network

5.4 Empirical Studies on Retraumatization

5.5 Conclusions: Toward


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About the authors

Krzysztof Rutkowski

Krzysztof Rutkowski M.D., Ph.D is a senior psychiatrist and professor at Jagiellonian University. Head of the Department of Psychotherapy, Jagiellonian University Medical College (Kraków, Poland), Dr. Rutkowski is also a psychotherapist, supervisor in psychotherapy, and Jungian analyst (Individual Member of IAAP). He has worked with victims of political persecution and patients with chronic PTSD for about 20 years. He has published papers on the long term effects of trauma - psychological as well as somatic - and psychotherapy of neurotic and personality disorders.