Search Swinburne Research Bank
This object has not yet been indexed by the background indexing service.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/198775
|Download 01front.pdf (Adobe Acrobat PDF, -1 bytes)|
|Download 02whole.pdf (Adobe Acrobat PDF, -1 bytes)|
- A narrative approach to understanding vulnerability to depression
- Harkness, Tanya
- Depression is an increasingly prevalent health complaint in the western world, and is characterised by a growing burden of increased morbidity, decreased physical functioning and impaired social and occupational functioning. This thesis adopted a narrative approach to understanding vulnerability to depression across the life span. Conway and Pleydell-Pearce’s (2000) explicit model of cognitive processing in autobiographical memory, the Self-Memory System (SMS) was drawn upon to examine the relationship between depression and narratives. Examination of autobiographical memories has the advantage of allowing coincident access to both the cognitive and affective aspects of information processing, and may therefore be capable of tapping into enduring cognitive schemata more effectively than sole reliance on self-report measures. A key concept of this thesis was its focus on self-defining memories (Singer, 2004; Singer & Salovey, 1993). Self-defining memories have been defined as a particular type of autobiographical memory that are both developmentally critical and directly reflective of the major themes in individuals’ lives, particularly unresolved conflicts or ongoing issues. The self-defining memories of currently depressed participants, participants who were not currently depressed but that had a history of depression, and participants with no current or previous depression, were compared for differences in both the structure and content of key elements in life narratives. The autobiographical memory dimension of specificity was used to measure structure, while the motivational themes of agency and communion, as well as three autobiographical memory dimensions associated with adaptation: redemption, contamination and integration were assessed for content. The affect in the self-defining memories was also considered. One hundred and five participants (44 men & 61 women) wrote self-defining memories, and indicated their current level of depression; previous experience of depression; and, levels of autonomy and sociotropy. Overall the results suggest that the narrative structure and content of individuals’ self-defining autobiographical memories are meaningfully related to both psychological adjustment and vulnerability to depression. Furthermore, these results imply that there are interacting processes associated with depression and vulnerability to depression: Increased contamination, negative affect and reduced specificity. In contrast, a number of interactive processes appear to act as protectors against depressive vulnerability, and may also work to promote and maintain recovery from depression: Increased integration, specificity, agency and redemption, and decreased contamination. Overall, the findings from the both the between-group comparisons and the cluster analyses lend support for the state-trait theory of depression, that current mood, social context and biological processes determine fluctuating accessibility to enduring cognitive-affecting schemata. Furthermore, a potential explanation for the role of integration as an adaptive and sophisticated cognitive process in differentiating depressive vulnerability is presented.
- Publication type
- Thesis (DPsych)
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Life and Social Sciences
- Publication year
- Australasian Digital Theses collection
- Copyright © 2011 Tanya Katrina Harkness.