Disorders and Treatment
- Mental Illness
- Bipolar Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Borderline Personality
- Mental Health Diagnosis
- Mental Health Treatments
- Alternative Meds
- Case Studies
There is no reason why most of us should know what SDMs are, but there is a reason we should all have them.
SDMs are self-defining memories that are vivid and emotionally charged. Having them tells us what kind of person we are, what our strengths are, and how we became the person we are today.
By reflecting a person’s central goals, values, key life lessons, and conflicts, SDMs are a foundation for personal identity - a sense of self - that guides our life choices.
Researchers at the University of Liege in Belgium have found that people who are depressed tend to have more self-defining memories with a negative emotional content than they do SDMs with a positive content.
The Belgium study also revealed people with depression or bipolar disorder have fewer SDMs with a meaning-making component—memories that help construct a meaningful story from life experiences. These individuals have low degrees of certainty and confidence about their self-descriptions as well.
“We believe that SDMs help people improve their self-concept clarity because SDMs are related to the main concerns and values of the individual,” said researcher Aurelie Wagener. “When patients have problems retrieving SDMs, this can threaten their self-perception and how confident they are in describing themselves.”
Wagener also points out that individuals with an unclear sense of self often feel lost and may have trouble envisioning a future for themselves.
What the Belgium study suggests is:
To improve self-defining memory recall we must ask our self questions such as, “What people, places, or occasions really mattered throughout my life since early childhood,” or “What events have shaped me to be the person I am now?” These questions help us recognize our primary concerns, and the values we prize. They also allow us to remember how we solved past problems, helping us face and tackle current ones.
Therapists and family members can also faciitate the recall of SDMs .
“Doctors and psychologists can help patients retrieve memories that are particularly relevant for their sense of self,” says Wagener. “Family members can assist when patients are not able to recall memories on their own. They might suggest some memories, and the patients could then explain these memories more deeply.”
The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.