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#1 lionheart

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:35 AM

I was reading more of Patricia Evans' Controlling People last night and came across this bit she wrote about confabulation:

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A person can believe that they are enraged by something they've actually just 'made up.' ...

Not knowing why he was angry, his mind gave him a 'reason'. This is confabulation. ...

When people are beside themselves, they are not likely to know and remember what happened when they weren't 'there.' It is as if they have a lapse of memory. When this happens, their mind can automatically confabulate what transpired or can confabulate a 'reason' for what they are feeling. ...

If you are overcome with an extremely powerful rage as if you've been attacked, but no actual attack has occurred, your mind may confabulate a 'reason' for your feeling.
The psychiatric diagnostic manual describes a diagnosis that fits quite well: 'Amnesiac disorder not otherwise specified. It is evidenced by the recital of imaginary events to fill in gaps in memory.'
Confabulations allow us to feel sane when we wouldn't otherwise. Confabulations seem like actual memory, seem to be the truth to the person who confabulates. Confabulations are so like actual memory that when a person confabulates a reason for, say, anger, he or she thinks that it actually is the reason for the anger. No wonder physical and verbal abusers so often appear to be telling the truth when they explain away their hurtful behavior.
Confabulation has an eerie and mind-boggling effect on [Victims]. When people hear untruth spoken as truth, it is as if they had stepped into an unreal world.

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Part of the reason this struck me is because it describes precisely what it felt like when the craziness started with ex. It felt as if I had "stepped into an unreal world", where up was down, black was white, and nothing I thought made sense made sense. I experienced a profound feeling of disorientation unlike anything I had ever felt in any intimate relationship I had ever before been in as an adult. It also seems to explain why sometimes ex seemed fully aware of her abusive behavior and at other times totally oblivious, and also why at times her occasional untruths could appear so convincing -- because she really did believe them.

The next thought I had was that Patricia Evans may have the cart before the horse. That maybe confabulation serves as a perfect and convenient justification for people who know the difference between a lie and the truth but choose the lie because it serves them better to get what they want. That in fact confabulation is what people do when they lack a commitment to self-knowledge and to truth and reality. That confabulators don't know themselves, haven't done the necessary soul searching and introspection to find out who they are, to establish an identity or self-concept, and to develop a moral compass -- at least not one in accord with the Western idea of the Social Contract.

Then there is this bit from Wikipedia about confabulation:

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Confabulation is a memory disturbance that is characterized by verbal statements and/or actions that inaccurately describe history, background, and present situations.[1] Confabulation is considered “honest lying,” but is distinct from lying because there is typically no intent to deceive and the individual is unaware that their information is false.[2] Although patients can present blatantly false information (“fantastic confabulation”), confabulatory information can also be coherent, internally consistent, and relatively normal.[2] Individuals who confabulate are generally very confident about their recollections, despite evidence contradicting its truthfulness.[3] The most known causes of confabulation are traumatic and acquired (e.g., aneurysm, edema) brain damage, and psychiatric or psychological disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease).
Two distinct types of confabulation are often distinguished: spontaneous and provoked.
Spontaneous, or primary, confabulations do not occur in response to a cue[4] and seem to be involuntary.[5] Spontaneous confabulation is also relatively rare and may result from the interaction between frontal lobe pathology and organic amnesia, and is more common in cases of dementia.[6]
Provoked, momentary, or secondary, confabulation represents a normal response to a faulty memory and is common in both amnesia and dementia.[6] Provoked confabulations can become apparent during memory tests.[4] Another distinction found in confabulations is that between verbal and behavioral. Verbal confabulations are spoken false memories and are more common, while behavioral confabulations occur when an individual acts on their false memories.[5] Confabulated memories of all types most often occur in autobiographical memory, [3] This type of confabulation is commonly seen in Korsakoff's syndrome[7] .


Read the whole article: http://en.wikipedia....i/Confabulation

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This makes it sounds like people who confabulate are suffering from a bona fide mental disorder, and that they don't really know and maybe aren't responsible for what they are doing. Maybe they are really medically damaged? But not so much that they can't still function on some level and at times act and appear as normal as everyone else.

So ultimately I'm back at the beginning asking myself the same seemingly unanswerable questions: Do they know what they're doing or not? Are they making a choice to be abusive or not? Are they and should they be held responsible for what they are doing or not? My head hurts.
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#2 PrudenceB

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 11:14 AM

Take two asperin, or a bottle of champers. Either helps.

short answer: No, people who are doing this do not typically realize it is happening (cognitive distortion/ feelings=facts). In people with certain disorders, like the cluster B's, because of a lack of core identity and an over active amygdila (which overrides the frontal cortex which control executive function), they can not "explain" to themselves why they feel a certain way. So in order to explain their feelings to themselves (and we all do this to a certain degree) they adjust the facts to make the feelings make sense. otherwise, they very understandably feel crazy. In order to not feel crazy, the facts get adjusted. That most often entials blaming others or moving dates and times or events around. Confabulations are not lies. They are two differne things. People who canfabulate can also lie. People who lie do not necesarily confabulate. They are very easy to spot when we know what's going on with a person.

narc lies. he admits he lies. He does it because he is acred to tell the truth. that's how he FEELS. That doesn;t make is grown up, that's how he FEELS. He also lies to get his way if we want to look at it that way. He also confabulates and it's clear when he is doing either one.

I had a situation with narc, I think I said this in antoher post, where he accused me of not telling him something and that was the cause of his nastyness towards me. I printed out the e mail chain where I did tell him and he responded. dates, times, everything. I gacve it to him. In the face of the e mails, he had to back down. every single conversation we had after that, he distorted the facts again to suit justifying his behavior.

The first time he distorted, he didn;t know he was doing it.

After he saw his own e mails to me and mune to him, with date and time stamps...how could he still carry on rewriting history?

It is unfathomable to me that this could happen, but it does. At this point, once he has seen it, is he confabulating? Or is he deliberately manipulating? By all evidence, in this specific case, part of him is making a CHOICE to not take responsibility for his own feelings, dealings and the facts. however, he also lacks to coping mechanisms to do otherwise. IF at this point in his life, he REALLY faced the evidence, his entire value system, his defense mechanism of distortion, and his feelings would all have to be confronted. he is not able to do that yet. There is not enough of a support sytem for him yet and he is not "there". So, he has little option other than to fall back on the blame shift where facts get readjusted. Could he have a "moment" and realize something is terribly wrong, be vulnerable and ask for the major psychiatric help he needs? Some people do. although not many. I can understand why. He has not been helped by therapy before. not by meds. he feels totally misunderstood. And he is. No one has diagnosed his PD yet, or rather, if it was diagnosed, it was not fully treated. So he doesn't.ask and he doesn't trust therapy. I don't blame him. Talk therpay doesn't help PD's, so his sense that his years in therapy were of little benefit is accurate. he doesn't think he has a PD. So, does that mean he is not ready yet to face these coping mechanisms or that he is choosing to stay ill or a little bit of both? Probably.

The intensity with which he entered out relationship- and we were both very intense, made it seem like we had been together forever - like no other life had come before- when I look at how long it was - weeks- he goes on and on about the MONTHS I did not tell him xyz and how it was deceptive and so on---"deep into our realtioship I found out"-- That FEELING of intensity, is what is causing his belief. How do I know? I have the calendar. I moved in March 15. He didn't have my e mail address until May 3. may 19 he proposed. How 'deeeep into the relationship" is this? he didn't know my last name until may 14. So, we were together all the time for two weeks before we started dating. We did not meet until April, passing through the courtyard. That's the fact. MONTHS!, as he claims is not possible. I lived 2000 miles away "MONTHS" before. So his intense feelings make no sense to him in light of the facts. Who would propose after two weeks? He can't see himself as being impulsive, needy, feeling lonely, abandoned. So, it must be something I did to upset him. Add in a sense of entitlement and we have problems. who really knows someone after two weeks? He wasn't willing to get to know a person, he wanted a 'teddy" to fit what he thought would impress his friends back home (again, his words). The rage that I was not going to , in his mind, be the "proof that he is better than those losers", because while I look barely 30, I am actually 40, and he wanted to show up to his married frineds with a barely out of collage trophy, resulted in the confabulations.


The irony however is that when we were dating, he would say things that sent up the flags, so I would give him materials to see how he would react to them and to help him. I do not know if he was lying, he lies constantly, but everytime I gave him soemthing directed at a BPD or NPD, he latched onto it - "oh this is EXACTLY how I think!" - so, I know for him to a certain degree, he is one of those people who wants help (he hit up AA really hard and was constantly going to self improvement seminars, reading voraciously and looking for answers), but has fallen through the cracks because he presents so well. he needs treatments that he likely thinks, and therapists likely think, are "beneath him" or "just for crazy people".

So - like everything else in life, there are grey areas with most people and not much is 'all or none"

Have I seen narc do things that are deliberately manipulative and nasty to hurt people? yes. That smirk is unmistakable. But I have also seen the genuine child-like confusion and pain from not knowing how to manage in an adult world.

Point: Stay away from people who confabulate- it is a serious problem, it needs attention and it is dangerous for people who loves them. People who develop negative emotional memories do no undo them- so even if the person gets helps, it is more likely than not that the person will have a nagging sense that loved one they blame is still somehow at fault....or has the capacity to hurt them or betray them and will always be on gaurd, holding some level of grudge or suspicion.

Sad.
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#3 claudifred

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 11:22 AM

Ack!
Yes, that made my head spin.
My ex was a grand confabulator. He definitely made me confused with what was real and what was not - so often that it was like I was brainwashed.
In the case of my ex, I believe he has narcissistic personality disorder and/or borderline personality disorder. Those come from a damaged view of one's true self. It makes perfect sense that his false self can also create these false stories to back up what the false self believes.
He is incapable of seeing the real truth, because he lives in his own world.
That doesn't mean he's always off in space, though. He has a very successful career and many friends. He is well-respected in many social circles.
So yes, they can still function quite well, but in my opinion, it doesn't stop the confabulation.
Does he mean to be abusive? I don't think my ex always meant it. But I do believe he was well aware of what he was doing to be to get what he wanted from me.
Should he be held responsible? If only I could prove the PTSD he caused, the constant manipulation that was the foundation of our relationship. I would love to hold him responsible... with what consequences, though? What exactly do I do with it?
And that's why I didn't bring it into the divorce. Just getting away from him saved my sanity. He's in a constant tailspin now. That's enough satisfaction for me.

#4 PrudenceB

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 11:34 AM

I agree with CF -

Yes, people need to be held responsible because it benefits EVERYONE. Confabulators are not serving themselves in the long run. So, yes, they need to be held accountable in a lving, responsible way that seeks to remedy, not punish or shame. Thst doesn't work, so, what;'s the point?

But yeah- they do need accountability- like everyone else.

#5 SteffieB

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 05:44 PM

The intensity with which he entered out relationship- and we were both very intense, made it seem like we had been together forever - like no other life had come before- when I look at how long it was - weeks- he goes on and on about the MONTHS I did not tell him xyz and how it was deceptive and so on---"deep into our realtioship I found out"-- That FEELING of intensity, is what is causing his belief. How do I know? I have the calendar. I moved in March 15. He didn't have my e mail address until May 3. may 19 he proposed. How 'deeeep into the relationship" is this? he didn't know my last name until may 14. So, we were together all the time for two weeks before we started dating. We did not meet until April, passing through the courtyard. That's the fact. MONTHS!, as he claims is not possible. I lived 2000 miles away "MONTHS" before. So his intense feelings make no sense to him in light of the facts. Who would propose after two weeks? He can't see himself as being impulsive, needy, feeling lonely, abandoned. So, it must be something I did to upset him. Add in a sense of entitlement and we have problems. who really knows someone after two weeks? He wasn't willing to get to know a person, he wanted a 'teddy" to fit what he thought would impress his friends back home (again, his words). The rage that I was not going to , in his mind, be the "proof that he is better than those losers", because while I look barely 30, I am actually 40, and he wanted to show up to his married frineds with a barely out of collage trophy, resulted in the confabulations.


Wow, Prudence. Although psychopath is well beyond wanting help or caring to know what's wrong with him and is blatantly and coldly lying, not confabulating, about everything from where he grew up to the existence of his parents to his race to his employment background, I can so relate to the relationship that you describe. It's funny to me that although I don't for a second believe that psychopath felt anything related to what I did and though I know that he knew exactly what he was doing, the tactics of accusing me of deception for not telling him things that I wouldn't generally tell someone within a couple of weeks of knowing them and the sheer intensity of the relationship right from the first are so much the same. He was talking marriage within the first two weeks and lamenting my inability to have more children within the first month.

But given that this is his pattern with everyone and that he was actively trying to get back with his ex-wife during these first few weeks, I don't believe that he was fooling himself at all. I think it was cold and calculated. But it's so much the same as what you went through. This is why it is almost impossible to ever answer "Do they do xyz on purpose?". When non-psychopaths do it, they act the same as when psychopaths do it. What conclusion do we draw from this, I wonder?

I mean, I know he's crazy, but could he really be trying to get with his ex-wife and simultaneously really be into me? Was he unintentionally confabulating so many accusations and angry outbursts instead of calculatedly lying? No, I don't think so. It's crazyland for real because when lying looks just like confabulating, you just cannot ever know about most abusive people, can you?

#6 PrudenceB

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 07:26 PM

yeah.

And your psycho is psycho.

Between his shame core and identity confusion, obvious need for emotional supply from others and being unable to be alone and unable to be responsibleto his relationships, needing adoration and reaassurance at extreme levels, and whatever else is in that stew...that man has to be living an almost totally dissociative life- or he is a pure evil psychopath, which the physical violaence suggests in part - shiver

Narc left a LDR to be with me. I can guess that he started courting a new supply when he started to devalue me..and I think he might have gone back to the woman he left me for, because I think he never really ended it in a solid way- just a guess- meaning there might have been woggle room- dunno tho. However, he lines people up so he doesn;t have to be alone at any moment. When he was lonely here, he would ring me up to ge together and then act like I was dirt when ihe saw me.

So, my narc is a mix of lies, confabulation, and self dfeception that I can clearly see which is which -

that does not mean everytime he lies or tells the truth I know the difference, I don;t. There are llot's of things I look back on and realize it was pure manipulation...and I spotted the gaslighting and manipulation at thhe time many times- but now I have questions abotu other things...

I just now it was all there...my relationshipp beforehand was with a controlling man and there were some confabulations going on - but narc is on a scale I have not experiennced before- and the thing of it is..it is all done as "good guy gaslighting". At east until we broke up. All of this crap was kept under a very tight lid which he says now "AA teaches me that I am less twsited inside when I express my anger." and then he unleashes the most unreal distortions, lies, self centered blame shifts...i realize now that his comment "all my life I could never say anything right, especialy with woman, so I just agree" is in part, because he is so poisonpous, no one would accept it, so he learned to be "happy all the time" and never express himself. I feel bad for the guy on that score. People rejected him because he's a narc and he never understood WHY. Well as soon as he started to share what was in his head....OMG

You are right- it would have been better is you and I were neighbors!!!! :-)

#7 lionheart

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:40 PM

I've been thinking all day about the question of whether they know what they're doing or whether it's the product of mental illness and whether they should be accountable or not.

Point: Stay away from people who confabulate- it is a serious problem, it needs attention and it is dangerous for people who love them.


This is I think dead right. Ultimately I think what I have to do at least for purposes of making decisions about my own life is behave as if they/others DO know what they're doing, whether in fact they do know or not. And without imposing any moral judgment about it one way or the other. That I leave to the civil authorities or the higher powers of the universe.

Because there isn't any traffic cop in an intimate relationship, no referee, no judge or jury to hand out a verdict or pass judgment and say you were right and you were wrong, 10-yard penalty, or $50 dollar fine for verbally or emotionally abusing your partner. We're on our own in these relationships and we're responsible for ourselves. If I don't act in a way that assumes the other person knows what they're doing I could find myself excusing and suffering to live with any and all manner of inhuman cruel and reprehensible behavior, potentially indefinitely. I am not god, I accept that I may never know whether their abuse is conscious or purposeful or not, but I am not going to risk my mental health or life or that of my child in the effort to find out.
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#8 SteffieB

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:33 PM

I've been thinking all day about the question of whether they know what they're doing or whether it's the product of mental illness and whether they should be accountable or not.



This is I think dead right. Ultimately I think what I have to do at least for purposes of making decisions about my own life is behave as if they/others DO know what they're doing, whether in fact they do know or not. And without imposing any moral judgment about it one way or the other. That I leave to the civil authorities or the higher powers of the universe.

Because there isn't any traffic cop in an intimate relationship, no referee, no judge or jury to hand out a verdict or pass judgment and say you were right and you were wrong, 10-yard penalty, or $50 dollar fine for verbally or emotionally abusing your partner. We're on our own in these relationships and we're responsible for ourselves. If I don't act in a way that assumes the other person knows what they're doing I could find myself excusing and suffering to live with any and all manner of inhuman cruel and reprehensible behavior, potentially indefinitely. I am not god, I accept that I may never know whether their abuse is conscious or purposeful or not, but I am not going to risk my mental health or life or that of my child in the effort to find out.


Seconded. Whether or not they can help it is ultimately irrelevant. If they can help it and they do it anyway, their character is abysmal. If they can't help it, they are not fit for human companionship. So either way, the only answer is to avoid people who behave in these ways.
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#9 donnelle

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 11:00 PM

I have followed this thread with great interest and agree with you that ultimately it does not matter if they know they are doing it or not...it is still too much insanity to live with and is not conducive to a healthy relationship.

I remember reading about confabulation in Evans' book for the first time and putting the book down with a huge sigh of relief that this phenomenon actually had a name! I could not even begin to describe it to people because it seemed to me that he actually DID believe what he was accusing me of even though I knew for sure, 100% without a doubt, that he was wrong.

In the end I just got so darned tired of defending myself against all the outlandish accusations and trying to prove what in many instances was not provable (and therefore, in his mind, he was right).

I may not have love in my life right now, but what I do have is peace. I sleep well at night. I bet he can't say the same!

#10 PrudenceB

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 11:47 PM

I've been thinking all day about the question of whether they know what they're doing or whether it's the product of mental illness and whether they should be accountable or not.



Ultimately I think what I have to do at least for purposes of making decisions about my own life is behave as if they/others DO know what they're doing, whether in fact they do know or not. And without imposing any moral judgment about it one way or the other. That I leave to the civil authorities or the higher powers of the universe.


I know that each person is different. Each disorder is different, and there is also simply evil.

I appproach it much the same way you do here LH when I meet confabulation in person, however I tweak it.

I do not assume anything about what the person knows or does not know. I assert that *I* know and that is all that matters. Exit stage left to privately greive for a year....ot two or three..or...

Unless we are staying in a marriage for the long haul, it is not important to know if they know or not. It is only important that we know and we protect ourselves. I will never be told again (and beleive it) "not to make a big deal out of anything". I will always be grateful that my relationship before narc taught me to keep e mail records just in case I picked another loon as an anti crazy making measure for myself. And when I see this most dangerous sign in a person I know there is no hope. Doesn;t matter what they know or not. I know.




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