Le narrazioni impossibili: sogni, confabulazioni e deliri / Impossible narratives: dreams, confabulations and delusions

  • Valentina Cardella
Keywords: narratives, dreams, confabulations, false memories, delusions


Our species seems to have a special need to tell stories (GOTTSCHALL 2012), a need which is evident also when the narrative seems impossible for a number of reasons. This paper aims to explore three different cases of impossible narratives: dreams, confabulations and delusions. In dreams, the contents show peculiar characteristics, such as contradictions, incongruities, nonsenses, that seem impossible to be told in a coherent way. When we try to recall the dream and we translate it into a story, we deal with a case of impossible narrative, that transforms a contradictory and illogic content into a coherent narration. In my analysis, I will treat the way we recall a dream as a special case of linguistic game (WITTGENSTEIN 1958), where the meaning of the dream lies in the way we use it, recalling it or telling it to someone else. The second case of impossible narrative is confabulation, or the spontaneous production of false memories. For example, amnesic patient who are asked to talk of something they can’t recall because of their amnesia produce completely false narrations, full of invented details, which they seem to believe in. In my view, confabulations appear as attempts to narrate oneself even when anomalous experiences threaten the sense of cohesion and unity of the self itself. Finally, the third case of impossible narrative I’ll deal with is delusion. Present in very different mental disorders, the delusion is a false belief firmly held by the subject, who defends it against every contrary evidence (APA 2013). I will try to show that the delusion is a form of paradoxical narrative, where the patient, who has completely lost his autonomy, is totally trapped in without any possibility to escape


APA (American Psychiatric Association) (2013), Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.), Washington, DC: Author.

BADDELEY, Alan, WILSON, Barbara (1986), Amnesia, autobiographical memory and confabulation, in DONALD Rubin, a cura di, Autobiographical memory, Cambridge University Press, New York.

BARA, Bruno (2012), Dimmi come sogni. Interpretazione emotiva dell’esperienza onirica, Mondadori, Milano.

BERRIOS, German (2000), Confabulation, in BERRIOS German E., HODGES John R., a cura di, Memory disorders in psychiatric practice, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

BINSWANGER, Ludwig (1965), Wahn, Beitrage zu seiner phänomenologischen und daseinsanalityschen, Erforschung, Pfullingen (Delirio. Antropoanalisi e fenomenologia, trad. di Giacometti Giorgio, Marsilio, Padova 1990).

BLANKENBURG, Wolfgang (1971), Der Verlust der natürlichen Selbstverständlichkeit: Ein Beitrag zur Psychopathologie symptomarmer Schizophrenien, Ferdinand Enke, Stuttgart (La perdita dell’evidenza naturale, trad. Ferro Filippo e Salerno Rosa, Raffaello Cortina, Milano 1990).

BROWN, Georgia (1996), «First Person Account: Paranoid Schizophrenia. A Sibling’s Story», in Schizophrenia Bulletin, vol. 22, n.3, p. 557.

CALLIERI, Bruno (1999), Wahnstimmung e perplessità, in ROSSI Monti, Mario., STANGHELLINI Giovanni, a cura di, Psicopatologia della schizofrenia, Raffaello Cortina, Milano.

COMELLI, Francesco (2012) «Forme del delirio e psicopatologia di Mario Rossi Monti», in Funzione Gamma, Journal on line di psicologia di gruppo, http://www.funzionegamma.it/forme-del-delirio-e-psicopatologia-di-mario-rossimonti.

CONWAY, Martin (2005), «Memory and the self», in Journal of Memory and Language, n. 53, pp. 594-628.

ELLIS, Havelock (1911), The world of dreams, Constable Limited, London.

FLANAGAN, Owen (2000), «Dreaming is not an adaptation», in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, n. 23(6), pp. 936-939.

FLETCHER, Garth, WARD, Colleen (1988), Attribution theory and processes: A cross-cultural perspective, in BOND Michael Harris, a cura di, The cross-cultural challenge to social psychology, Sage, Newbury Park, CA.

FOTOPOULOU, Aikaterini (2008), «False selves in neuropsychological rehabilitation: The challenge of confabulation», in Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, iFirst, pp. 1-25.

FOTOPOULOU, Aikaterini, CONWAY, Martin, SOLMS, Mark (2007), «Confabulation: Motivated reality monitoring», in Neuropsychologia, n. 45, pp. 2180-2190.

FOTOPOULOU, Aikaterini, SOLMS, Mark, TURNBULL, Oliver (2004), «Wishful reality distortions in confabulation: A case report», in Neuropsychologia, n. 42, pp. 727-744.

FRENCH, Lauren, GARRY, Maryanne, LOFTUS, Elizabeth (2009), «False memories: A kind of confabulation in non-clinical subjects», in Confabulation: Views from Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Psychology and Philosophy, p. 33.

FREUD, Sigmund (1899), Die Traumdeutung, Franz Deuticke, Leipzig und Wein (L’interpretazione dei sogni, trad. di Fachinelli Elvio e Trettl Herma, in Opere, vol. 3, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 1997).

Freud, Sigmund (1913), Totem und Tabu. Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben der Wilden und der Neurotiker, H. Heller & Cie, Leipzig und Wien (Totem e Tabù. Psicologia delle masse e analisi dell’Io, trad. di Daniele Silvano e Panaitescu Emilio, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 2011).

GAINOTTI, Guido (1975) «Confabulation of denial in senile dementia», in Psychiatria Clinica, n.8, pp. 99-108.

GARRY, Maryanne, WADE, Kimberley (2005), «Actually, a picture is worth less than 45 words: Narratives produce more false memories than photographs do», in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, n. 12, pp. 359-366.

GASPARINI, Carolina (2009) «Il sogno raccontato: parole dal mondo interno», in Rivista di Psicologia Individuale, suppl. n. 65, pp.86-94.

GAZZANIGA, Michael, LEDOUX, Joseph (1978), The Integrated Mind, Plenum Press, New York.

GILBOA, Asaf, MOSCOVITCH, Morris (2002), The cognitive neuroscience of confabulation: A review and a model, in BADDELEY Alan D., KOPELMAN Michael D., Wilson, B.A., a cura di, Handbook of memory disorders, John Wiley & Sons, London.

GOTTSCHALL, Jonathan (2012), The storytelling animal. How stories make us human, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York.

HOBSON, John Allan (1988), The Dreaming Brain, Basic Books, New York.

HOBSON, John Allan, PACE-SCHOTT, Edward F., STICKGOLD, Robert (2000), «Dreaming and the brain: Toward a cognitive neuroscience of conscious states», in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23(6), pp. 793-842.

HYMAN, Ira, BILLINGS, James (1998), «Individual differences and the creation of false childhood memories», in Memory, n. 6, pp. 1-20.

JASPERS, Karl (1913) Psicopatologia generale, Il Pensiero Scientifico, Roma.

KRAEPELIN, Emil (1905), Introduzione alla clinica psichiatrica, Società Editrice Libraria, Milano.

LOFTUS, Elizabeth, PICKRELL, Jacqueline (1995), «The formation of false memories», in Psychiatric Annals, n. 25, pp. 720-725.

LORENZINI, Roberto, CORATTI, Brunella (2008), La dimensione delirante, Raffaello Cortina Editore, Milano.

MOSCOVITCH, Morris (1995), Confabulation, in SCHACTER Daniel L., COYLE, Joseph T., FISCHBACH Gerald D., MESULUM Marcel M., SULLIVAN Lawrence G., a cura di, Memory distortion: how minds, brains and societies reconstruct the past, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

NEISSER, Ulric (1988), «Five kinds of self-knowledge», in Philosophical Psychology, n. 1, pp. 35-59.

RIOLO, Fernando (2003), L’analisi dei sogni. Gli scritti del VI colloquio di Palermo, Franco Angeli, Milano.

SARTRE, Jean Paul (1938), La Nausèe, Gallimard, Paris (La nausea, trad. di Fonzi Bruno, Einaudi, Torino 1963).

SCHNEIDER, Kurt (1959), Clinical Psychopathology, Grune and Stratton, New York.

SCHNIDER, Armin, PTAK, Radek (1999), «Spontaneous confabulators fail to suppress currently irrelevant memory traces», in Nature Neuroscience, n. 2, pp. 677-681.

SEDIKIDES, Constantine, GREGG, Aiden (2003), Portraits of the self, in HOGG Michael A., COOPER Joel, a cura di, The Sage handbook of social psychology, Sage, London.

SMITH, Nicola, FREEMAN, Daniel, KUIPERS, Elizabeth (2005), «Grandiose delusions: an experimental investigation of the delusion-as-defence hypothesis», in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, n.193, pp. 480-487.

STANGHELLINI, Giovanni (2008), Psicopatologia del senso commune, Raffaello Cortina, Milano.

STERIADE, Mircea, MCCARLEY, Robert (1990), Brainstem Control of Wakefulness and Sleep, Springer, Boston.

TAYLOR, Shelley, BROWN, Jonathan (1988), «Illusion and well-being: a social psychological perspective on mental health», in Psychological Bulletin, n.103, pp. 193-210.

TURNBULL, Oliver, BERRY, Helen, EVANS, Cathryn (2004), «A positive emotional bias in confabulatory false beliefs about place», in Brain and Cognition, n. 55(3), pp. 490-494.

UGOLINI, Maria Consuelo (1992), «Ricerca di senso e psicoanalisi in Wittgenstein», in Atque, n. 5, pp. 111-130.

WEINSTEIN, Edwin (1996), «Symbolic aspects of confabulation following brain injury: Influence of premorbid personality», in Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, n. 60, pp. 331-350.

WITTGENSTEIN, Ludwig (1958), Philosophical Investigations, Basil Blackwell, Oxford (Ricerche Filosofiche, trad. di Trinchero Mario, Einaudi, Torino, 1999).

WITTGENSTEIN, Ludwig (1979), Lectures 1932-1935, Basil Blackwell, Oxford (Lezioni e conversazioni sull’etica, l’estetica, la psicologia e la credenza religiosa, trad. di Michele Ranchetti, Adelphi, Milano 1980).

How to Cite
Cardella, V. (2018) “Le narrazioni impossibili: sogni, confabulazioni e deliri / Impossible narratives: dreams, confabulations and delusions”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 00. Available at: http://www.rifl.unical.it/index.php/rifl/article/view/447 (Accessed: 23October2021).