True and false recall and dissociation among maltreated children: The role of self-schema

Kristin Valentino, Dante Cicchetti, Fred A. Rogosch, Sheree I. Toth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The current investigation addresses the manner through which trauma affects basic memory and self-system processes. True and false recall for self-referent stimuli were assessed in conjunction with dissociative symptomatology among abused (N = 76), neglected (N = 92), and nonmaltreated (N = 116) school-aged children. Abused, neglected, and nonmaltreated children did not differ in the level of processing self-schema effect or in the occurrence and frequency of false recall. Rather, differences in the affective valence of false recall emerged as a function of maltreatment subtype and age. Regarding dissociation, the abused children displayed higher levels of dissociative symptomatology than did the nonmaltreated children. Although abused, neglected, and nonmaltreated children did not exhibit differences in the valence of their self-schemas, positive and negative self-schemas were related to self-integration differently among the subgroups of maltreatment. Negative self-schemas were associated with increased dissociation among the abused children, whereas positive self-schemas were related to increased dissociation for the neglected children. Thus, positive self-schemas displayed by the younger neglected children were related to higher dissociation, suggestive of defensive self-processing. Implications for clinical intervention are underscored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-232
Number of pages20
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2008


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