Momentary Confabulations as Interactional Achievements


  • C. McVittie
  • A. McKinlay
  • S.E. MacPherson
  • S. Della Sala


Background: Momentary confabulations are false recollections produced in response to questioning, often arising in clinicians’ interviews with patients. Here we examine the interactional elements of such interviews. Methods: Using discourse analysis, we analysed talk from clinical interviews with confabulating patients. Analysis focused on how both parties oriented to patients’ descriptions of remembered events and on the design and consequential relevance of interactional turns. Findings: Patients’ descriptions show interaction of memory deficits with preserved interactional skills. Interviewers agree with rather than challenge problematic descriptions resulting in further confabulation. Thus, patients’ false recollections arise in part out of the interviews themselves rather than neuropsychological impairment. Discussion: These features mark the clinical interviews out as different from other interactions. Ironically, interviews based on use of confabulation questionnaires can provide settings that are especially conducive to generation of momentary confabulations. Clinical and health researchers require to be alert to the interactional aspects of such encounters.






Oral presentations