Confabulation is a condition in which one’s brain produces memories that inaccurately describe history or present situations. A person in this condition may appear to be lying, but confabulation is considered to be “honest lying,” as he or she actually believes the memories are true. The confabulatory information can range from relatively normal details like having pancakes for breakfast to very bizarre stories of taking a trip in a space ship. People who confabulate are typically very confident about their recollections, even if evidence is contradictory.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but there are various neurological impairments that generally lead to confabulation. Most known cases of confabulation are due to traumatic and acquired brain disorders, as well as psychiatric disorders ranging from schizophrenia to Alzheimer’s disease. As of now there is no cure or effectively proven treatment for confabulation.
There are two different types of confabulation: spontaneous and provoked. Spontaneous confabulations do not occur in response to a cue and are involuntary. These are relatively rare, but more common in cases of dementia. Provoked confabulations are responses such as forgetting or altering small details in a real event, making the memories untrue. These confabulations can make the person come across as confused or appear to be simply embellishing stories.
It is important to remember that confabulators are not trying to lie or deliberately mislead, but they truly believe the memories they have are true.