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Our contribution to this special issue focuses on the phenomenon of intrusive trauma memory. While intrusive trauma memories can undoubtedly cause impairment, we argue that they may exist for a potentially adaptive reason. Theory and experimental research on intrusion development are reviewed and possible functions of intrusive trauma memory are explored. These functions include aiding emotional processing, preventing future harm and protecting the coherence of the self. The issue of intrusive images in other disorders than posttraumatic stress disorder is briefly addressed. This review suggests that the study of function is important for a nuanced view on the modulation of intrusive trauma memory in both experimental psychopathology and clinical treatment. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Applied Cognitive Psychology

Publication Date





1076 - 1088