Moreover, these recovered memories might differ qualitatively from memories that had never been forgotten, because of postevent contamination and perceptual narrowing due to high arousal during the offense. Our present sample was selected from our original case notes study, 5 in which we examined all offenders who received a life sentence in in England and Wales.
None of the inmates sentenced in had been released when the present data were collected, and their current locations were determined by using the database at Her Majesty's Prison Service Headquarters. The governor of each identified prison was approached by letter, outlining the purpose of the study in a Patient Information Sheet and asking for permission to approach the inmates concerned. If permission was obtained, the Patient Information Sheet and Consent Form were either sent to the identified persons directly or distributed to them by prison staff. The interviews were conducted in 20 prisons ranging from Category A high security to Category D low-security, or open, conditions across England by a single researcher N.
These interviews took place over the course of two years, approximately seven years after conviction, because of the considerable difficulties encountered in gaining the support of all 20 prison establishments to approach the participants. Interviews were conducted in private, and a warning on the limits of confidentiality was given regarding any disclosures of intent to harm self or others or of breaches to prison security. The purpose of the research was explained orally and on the Patient Information Sheet, and a consent was signed.
It was emphasized that participation in the research or refusal would not have any effect on the inmate's treatment or progress. Exclusion criteria were denial of the offense i. All 59 inmates identified as amnesic in the case notes study were approached. Of those, 28 could not be interviewed for various reasons. Eight inmates refused to participate in the research after reading the Patient Information Sheet, and eight were from six prisons whose governors did not reply to repeated letters.
One inmate was detained in a maximum-security hospital, and the responsible medical officer did not reply to two letters. Four inmates were in prisons that refused access, and three were in a prison that made access impossible. One inmate was in the process of an appeal and was excluded from the study, one was too behaviorally and mentally disturbed to be interviewed, and a further two now denied that they had ever had amnesia.
Hence, 31 amnesic inmates from the case notes study were eventually interviewed. Several inmates identified as nonamnesic in the case notes study were also approached to provide a comparison group, matched as closely as possible to the amnesic group in terms of their offense and the prisons they were held in.
The interviewer was not blind to the presence or absence of amnesia according to the case notes. However, a standard interview was used for all participants, whether or not they had been classified as amnesic in the case notes study. Following the interview, the participants were divided into three groups for the purposes of the study. A semistructured pro forma format was used. The participants were asked about their current memory of the index offense, including the estimated duration of any amnesic gap. They were also asked to provide an account of what they remembered about the offense immediately after it occurred.
Therefore, they were asked to recall both their current memory of the offense and what their memories had been seven years earlier, estimating the length of any amnesic gap at both times. Amnesia was defined as the inability to recall part or all of the offense and excluded those who simply denied committing the offense. Participants were asked about alcohol and illicit drug use in the 12 hours preceding the index offense.
The offense was coded as to whether it was a crime of passion, defined as killing by the defendant, while in a state of heightened arousal, of someone emotionally important to him. The semistructured pro forma included items about any medical and psychiatric history, previous blackouts whether related to alcohol or dissociative experiences , and childhood physical or sexual abuse.
We also screened for a history of alcohol dependence, using the four-item CAGE questionnaire. The participant was also asked about any history of drug misuse Ref. Wechsler Memory Scale—Revised 34 : a measure of immediate and delayed verbal recall tested by Logical Memory prose passages. Camden Memory Tests 35 : includes measures of verbal paired-associate learning recall, verbal recognition memory, and visual recognition memory for pictures, faces, and topography.
The Pictorial Recognition Memory Test also serves as a measure of deliberate underperformance. Participants were asked to rate themselves on a point visual analog scale in response to questions about the frequency of any dissociative experiences in their daily lives. Items include experiences of disturbance in memory, identity, awareness, and cognition.
Peritraumatic Dissociation Questionnaire: based on the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire, 37 adapted by Mechanic et al.
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One measure, relating to blanking out had the potentially confounding effect of not being independent of amnesia at the time of the offense. Repressive Coping Style Questionnaire 40 : derives from the Bendig short form of the Manifest Anxiety Scale MAS 41 and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale MC , 42 and requires participants to rate 58 statements as true or false, according to whether each statement generally applies to them or not.
In accordance with Weinberger et al. Experience of Shame Scale 43 : a self-reported evaluation of shame felt during the past year, based on the Characterological, Behavioral, and Bodily Shame Interview. Behavioral shame includes items about doing something wrong, saying something that makes the self-rater appear unintelligent, and feelings of failure in competitive situations. Bodily shame incorporates shameful feelings about one's body or any part of it. The scale therefore measures dispositional shame as a personality trait, rather than shame about a specific event, such as a violent offense.
Memory Characteristics Questionnaire 29 : a item self-report questionnaire that assesses the quality of current memory for an event to determine whether this event memory is likely to be real or imagined. According to Johnson et al. By contrast, memories originating from thought imagined memories are characterized by more reports about the cognitive operations that generated them. There are also neutral items on the questionnaire, unaffected by whether an event was real or imagined. In the current study, the events asked about were those occurring just before, during, or after the index offense.
Impact of Event Scale IES 45 : a self-report questionnaire asking about the degree of subjective distress experienced as a result of a specific event, including intrusive memories and avoidance reactions, but not the hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. Participants were asked to evaluate these symptoms with respect to the events surrounding the index offense.
Data were entered on a spreadsheet and analyzed with SPSS Where data were categorical, analyses of differences between groups were conducted with Pearson's chi-square test with Yates's correction where the expected frequency was less than five. Where data were continuous, the normality of distribution was checked. Comparisons between two groups were made by using the independent-samples t test.
The Mann-Whitney U test was used for nonparametric data. Binary logistic regression analysis was performed to establish the factors most closely associated with the presence of amnesia as the dependent variable and then with recovery of memory as the dependent variable.
Mean age was Previous amnesic blackouts, whether alcohol related or dissociative, had been experienced by 42 percent. The sample was heterogeneous in previous offending, with the number of previous convictions ranging from 0 to 58 mean 9.
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The 50 participants selected for interview were compared with the original cohort of across the demographic data and did not differ significantly on any of the measures. There was no significant difference between the two groups in intoxication with either drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense. The amnesic and nonamnesic groups did not differ significantly in any of the demographic variables listed. The two groups did not differ significantly on any of these measures. In particular, scores on the Pictorial Recognition Memory Test were well above chance, indicating that the amnesic subjects were not faking their performance.
Data were unobtainable from three amnesic participants, as their amnesic gap was too extensive to allow them to recall any dissociative symptoms. Table 3 shows that there were some important negative findings. In particular, there were no significant differences between amnesic and nonamnesic participants in IES, shame, or repressive coping style scores.
In other words, memories surrounding the amnesic gap and the offense were less vivid in the amnesic group, but the participants did not have more imagined memories. Logistic regression analysis was performed to identify the factors most strongly associated with amnesia. Binary likelihood ratio regression revealed several significant associates of amnesia. These were then entered into a forward likelihood ratio regression analysis. For every unit by which peritraumatic dissociation was increased, the odds of amnesia occurring was increased by 0.
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In other words, the presence of peritraumatic dissociation meant it was more likely that the inmate would report amnesia, whereas vivid perceived memories for surrounding events meant that it was less likely that the inmate would report it. Table 4 shows the length of the amnesic gaps in minutes that the interviewee reported as having been present at the time of the offense and at the follow-up. Both gaps were estimated by the participant at the time of interview, approximately seven years after conviction for the offense. There was a large mean minutes and standard deviation minutes for length of gap in the inmates in the amnesic group who eventually recovered memories Group 2.
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