“In extreme cases, we refer to this as confabulation. The brain creates and recreates the past…”*

*from story by Arthur C. Clarke

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

“confabulation (n.)

“a talking together, chatting, familiar talk,” mid-15c., from Late Latin confabulationem (nominative confabulatio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin confabulari “to converse together,” from assimilated form of com “with, together” (see con-) + fabulari”to talk, chat,” from fabula “a tale” (from PIE root *bha- (2) “to speak, tell, say”).”

From: Brown J, Huntley D, Morgan S, Dodson KD, Cich J (2017) Confabulation: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals. Int J Neurol Neurother 4:070:


Confabulation is the creation of false memories in the absence of intentions of deception. Individuals who confabulate have no recognition that the information being relayed to others is fabricated. Confabulating individuals are not intentionally being deceptive and sincerely believe the information they are communicating to be genuine and accurate. Confabulation ranges from small distortions of actual memories to creation of bizarre and unusual memories, often with elaborate detail. Although confabulations can occur in non-impaired populations, the aim of this article is to bring into focus the unique problems associated with this phenomenon and its impact on clients involved in the mental health system. The vividness with which clients describe their memories may convince some mental health professionals into believing the memories are real. Even when the client is presented with information that directly conflicts with their version of events, they will persist in believing their memories are wholly accurate. Mental health professionals must be vigilant about its identification to gather accurate information from a client and to provide optimal treatment strategies. Therefore, this article provides information about confabulation, including its characteristics and etiology, links to psychological and neurological disorders, its impact on others, and considerations for mental health professionals.

Historical origins
The term confabulation made its first appearance in the medical literature in the early 1900s. Sergei Sergeievich Korsakoff, a Russian psychiatrist, noted that alcoholic patients were more likely to display memory deficits referred to as “pseudo-reminiscences, illusions of memory, or falsifications of memory”, ultimately called confabulation. Other prominent psychiatrists, such as Emil Kraepelin and Karl Bonhoeffer, began to document cases of confabulation in patients with dementia, senility, and brain trauma. In such cases, patients can significantly alter important details of memory or generate new memories of events that never took place. However, what is often more problematic is that clients will act on their confabulations, which means their behavior is based on false recall…”


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