Confabulation and Delusions: Similarities, Differences, and Clinical/Forensic Implications

Confabulation and Delusions: Similarities, Differences, and Clinical/Forensic Implications


1 Hour | 1 CE (CEU)

Program Description

This webinar on Confabulation and Delusions: Similarities, Differences, and Clinical/Forensic Implications is presented by Dr. Jerrod Brown.

False beliefs such as confabulation and delusions can have serious consequences in criminal justice settings such as false confessions and wrongful convictions. For example, these false beliefs can limit an individual’s capacity to make informed legal decisions like waiving legal rights (e.g., Miranda rights and the right to an attorney), confessing to a crime, or entering a plea. Further, false beliefs may limit an individual’s competency to stand trial or serve as a witness. Despite these issues, professionals working in criminal justice and forensic mental health settings often lack expertise in confabulation and delusions. In light of these consequences, it is essential that legal, law enforcement, corrections, and mental health professionals working in criminal justice and forensic settings are able to recognize and distinguish confabulations and delusions.

In contrast, confabulations are false beliefs that can stem from frontal lobe damage, executive function deficits, or memory issues. Confabulations can also occur among non-impaired individuals who are pressured to respond to direct lines of questioning (e.g., law enforcement interrogations or cross-examination). In these cases, an individual unconsciously recalls an inaccurate memory that they wholeheartedly believe is true. This may be done in an effort to resolve gaps in an individual’s memory by incorporating memories of other events. Confabulation can be precipitated by internal factors (e.g., cognitive deficits) or external factors (e.g., repeated questioning or negative feedback in stressful situations). Although confabulation can occur in perfectly healthy individuals under the right set of circumstances, the presence of neurological conditions such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Traumatic-Brain Injury (TBI), and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) increases the likelihood of confabulation. In contrast, delusions are firmly entrenched false beliefs that persist despite the presence of convincing evidence to the contrary. These misinterpretations of reality can take on the form of delusions of persecution (e.g., “the CIA is trying to kill me”) or delusions of grandeur (e.g., “I am Jesus Christ”). Delusions typically occur in the context of a mental illness such as a psychotic disorder (e.g., schizophrenia).

Although both confabulations and delusions seem real to the individual and are manifested without any malice intentions, these types of false beliefs can be distinguished in terms of their etiology. Gaining a greater familiarity with an individual client’s personal background is essential in this process. An important step is obtaining collateral information from sources other than the client including family members, friends, care providers, and official records. If the client has a mental illness such as psychosis or a pattern of bizarre behavior across different settings, then delusions are likely the source of false beliefs. In contrast, if the client has memory issues or executive function impairments, or frontal lobe injuries, then confabulations could be the cause of false beliefs. That said, it is possible that a client could suffer from both delusions and confabulations at the same time. Distinguishing the origins of these false beliefs is a necessary first step in ensuring the adequate treatment of the client.

Intended Audience

This webinar is relevant for mental health professionals and legal professionals, including those working in forensic, clinical, criminal justice, health care, social service, and educational settings. This webinar is for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level professionals.

Upon completion of this webinar, participants should be able to:

  • Describe a working knowledge of the definitions and subtypes of delusions and confabulation
  • Describe existing research literature on confabulation and delusions including key facts and statistics
  • Describe the biopsychosocial and environmental causes of confabulation and delusions
  • Describe common myths and misinformation about confabulation and delusions
  • Describe how to distinguish between confabulation and delusions through a systematic comparison of their similarities and differences
  • Describe a working knowledge of the deleterious impacts of confabulation and delusions on an individual’s capacity to navigate the criminal justice system (e.g., competency to stand trial)
  • Describe how confabulation and delusions can contribute to false confessions, inaccurate testimony, and wrongful convictions
  • Describe a basic understanding of the challenges (e.g., misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis) that confabulation and delusions can present in the screening and assessment process
  • Describe about intervention strategies and treatment techniques for confabulation and delusions
  • Describe current gaps in knowledge and highlight future directions for research on confabulation and delusions

About Dr. Jerrod Brown

Jerrod Brown, Ph.D., is the Treatment Director for Pathways Counseling Center, Inc. Pathways provides programs and services benefiting individuals impacted by mental illness and addictions. Jerrod is also the lead developer of an online Master of Arts degree in Human Services with an emphasis in Forensic Behavioral Health from Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota, the founder and CEO of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS), and the Editor-in-Chief of Forensic Scholars Today (FST) and the Journal of Special Populations (JSP). Jerrod has completed four separate master’s degree programs and holds graduate certificates in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Other Health Disabilities (OHD), and Traumatic-Brain Injuries (TBI). Jerrod is certified as a Youth Firesetter Prevention/Intervention Specialist, Thinking for a Change (T4C) Facilitator, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Trainer, and a Problem Gambling Treatment Provider.

This webinar will cover the following in criminal justice settings:

  • Wrongful convictions
  • False confessions
  • Waiving legal rights
  • Memory issues
  • Function deficits

Continuing Education Credit

This Distance Learning Recorded Webinar is a Home Study Training Program. To earn CEs you are required to complete all course materials, quizzes, and the evaluation. No partial credit is available. A score of 70% is required to proceed; you will be able to re-take any quiz on which you score less than 70%. Participants will earn 1 CE hour upon completion of these requirements. Each participant will be able to download and print the CE certificate upon completion of the final evaluation.

Board Approvals: APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC. Click here for state and other regional board approvals.

Your satisfaction with our programs, products and services is important to us; however, because these are immediately made available to you upon registration and payment, we do not issue refunds. Should you find that a particular program, product or service is not the right fit for you, we will assist you in crediting your registration towards another one of our offerings that might better suit you.

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