The dog that didn't growl: The interactional negotiation of momentary confabulations

Chris Mcvittie, Andy McKinlay, Sergio Della Sala, Sarah E. MacPherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We examine from a discursive perspective momentary confabulations generated by patients in clinical interviews based on confabulation questionnaires. Commonly, neuropsychology treats such confabulations solely as evidence of patients' inabilities or deficits. Here we argue that patients' descriptions indicate the interaction of memory deficits with preserved interactional skills. More than this, however, patients' descriptions can be seen in part to arise out of the interviews themselves, in that the interviewer's turns (a) signal agreement rather than disagreement or challenge, and (b) lead to further development of descriptions instead of marking these out as problematic. These features mark out the clinical interviews as different from (i) everyday conversation, and (ii) other clinical settings such as the administration of verbal memory tests, and as a result the interviews allow scope for patients to develop unchallenged autobiographical narratives. Thus, ironically, interviews that rely on the standard use of confabulation questionnaires can provide settings that are especially conducive to the generation of the momentary confabulations that they aim to study.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Early online date1 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • memory
  • confabulation
  • momentary confabulation
  • communication
  • discourse analysis
  • social interaction
  • patient's interview
  • verbal reports


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