November 24 – confabulation?

imagined experience
replace memories

I ran across confabulate in a wonderful paragraph in my reading the other day.

In the Social Animal, David Brooks writes, “The unconscious mind merely confabulates stories that try to make sense of what the unconscious mind is doing of it own accord.”

I liked the word confabulate.

I was pretty sure I had heard it before.

I was pretty sure I knew what it meant.

I looked it up to make sure.

The first definition, engage in conversation; talk, seemed to apply to Brooks’ use of the word.

There was a 2nd definition listed.

    fabricate imaginary experiences as compensation for loss of memory

That definition demanded more investigation.

My question, is the confabulator making things up on purpose?

Telling a lie in other words?

Or are these imaginary memories born out of frustration for lack of real memory?

Or are these imaginary memories there because that is how the confabultor really remembers them?

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary gives this use of the word, ” A major characteristic of brain-damaged patients is the tendency to confabulate—to hide and dissemble about their damage.”

To me that sounds like its all made up except that it refers to brain damaged people?

Merriam-Webster also states, ” Confabulate is a fabulous word for making fantastic fabrications. Given the similarities in spelling and sound, you might guess that “confabulate” and “fabulous” come from the same root, and they do – the Latin fabula, which means “conversation, story.” Another “fabula” descendant that continues to tell tales in English is “fable.” All three words have long histories in English: “fable” first appeared in writing in the 14th century, and “fabulous” followed in the 15th. “Confabulate” is a relative newcomer, appearing at the beginning of the 1600s. “

Fantastic fabrications?


It’s a great word.


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