Reality monitoring in detoxified alcoholics
Reality monitoring is a memory process in which a person determines whether a recalled memory was originally externally derived (e.g., heard, saw externally) or whether it was originally internally derived (e.g., thought, imagined). The recently detoxified alcoholic population has demonstrated certain cognitive deficits in past studies, including memory and visual-perceptual problems; therefore, it was hypothesized that a group of recently detoxified alcoholic subjects would perform less well on both verbal and visual reality monitoring tasks than would a group of non-alcoholic control subjects. It was further hypothesized that the alcoholic subjects would demonstrate particular difficulty on the visual reality monitoring task. A group of 60, male, recently detoxified alcoholic patients undergoing treatment at a military alcohol treatment facility and 29 nonalcoholic control subjects from nearby commands were tested. Half of the experimental and control subjects received a visual reality monitoring test and half of the experimental and control subjects received a verbal reality monitoring test. Results indicated that experimental subjects performed at or above the level of control subjects on both verbal and visual reality monitoring tasks; therefore, there was not evidence of reality monitoring deficits in the recently detoxified alcoholic patients. Findings have treatment and self-esteem implications and lend support to the belief held by some researchers that, if present at all, memory deficits in the detoxified alcoholic population are subtle and not easily measurable.