Intrusive memory: What factors differentiate successful from unsuccessful suppressors?

Reginald Nixon, Sarah Wilksch, Jessica Hosking

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Previous research has demonstrated intrusive memory is not a foregone consequence of thought suppression, and in some contexts, temporary distancing of oneself from a distressing stressor may be adaptive. The aim of the present study was to examine some of the potential variables associated with non-maladaptive outcome following thought suppression. From an initial sample of 109 nonclinical participants a subset (n = 75) was divided into three groups based on their intrusive experiences following exposure to a film of traumatic content: those who reported high levels of thought suppression and experienced intrusions over a 1-week period; those who reported high levels of thought suppression but did not experience significant intrusions, and those who reported low levels of thought suppression and low numbers of intrusions. Relevant predictors of outcome such as trait thought suppression, pre-existing mood and trauma adjustment, and information processing style did not differentiate between high suppressors who continued to experience intrusions from high suppressors who had low levels of intrusions. Distress caused by intrusions and vividness of these intrusions appeared to be a better distinguishing feature. The findings are discussed in the context of cognitive models of intrusive phenomena and their application to understanding intrusive experience in clinical disorders.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)134-144
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Cognitive Therapy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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