Intrusive images and "hotspots" of trauma memories in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: an exploratory investigation of emotions and cognitive themes.
Holmes EA., Grey N., Young KA.
This study aimed to investigate the emotions and cognitions contained in "hotspots" of memory for trauma, as well as their associated images. Thirty-two participants at a specialist outpatient trauma clinic had experienced a range of traumatic events and met diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Data were collected within an agreed protocol, involving reliving therapy. Patients described the different intrusive images of the trauma that they were re-experiencing. Their reports of cognitions and emotions during "hotspots" in their memory of the traumatic experience were recorded as part of reliving therapy. Hotspots refer to moments of peak emotional distress during the event. There was a high degree of match reported between intrusive images and hotspots. The cognitive and emotional contents of hotspots were qualitatively analysed into themes. The relative of frequency of these peritraumatic themes is presented. The exploratory findings are discussed with respect to our understanding and treatment of intrusive imagery in PTSD.