Characteristics and organization of the worst moment of trauma memories in posttraumatic stress disorder

Lena Jelinek*, Colette Stockbauer, Sarah Randjbar, Michael Kellner, Thomas Ehring, Steffen Moritz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


It has been proposed that the organization of the worst moment in traumatic memories (" hotspots" ) is of particular importance for the development of PTSD. However, current knowledge regarding the organization and content of worst moments is incomplete. In the present study, trauma survivors with (n= 25) and without PTSD (n= 54) were asked to indicate the worst moment of their trauma and to give a detailed narrative of the traumatic event. The worst moment and the remaining narrative were analyzed separately with regard to organization and emotional content. Results indicated that worst moments of trauma survivors with PTSD differed from the remaining narrative and from worst moments described by trauma survivors without PTSD in that they were characterized by more unfinished thoughts, more use of the present tense and lower levels of cognitive processing. However, hypotheses regarding differentiating emotional content were not supported. Implications for our theoretical understanding of PTSD and potential therapeutic interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-685
Number of pages6
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Alexithymia
  • Hotspots
  • LIWC
  • Narrative memory
  • PTSD


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