, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 184-190

Metacognitive control over false memories: A key determinant of delusional thinking

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Abstract

This article reviews the current literature on false memories in schizophrenia. Increasing evidence suggests that neither memory impairment in general nor false memories in particular can reliably differentiate patients with schizophrenia or delusions from psychiatric controls. In contrast, it is proposed that a reduced metacognitive awareness of one’s own fallibility, and overconfidence in errors, may predispose a person to fixed, false beliefs (ie, delusions). Congruent with this position, a number of recent investigations suggest that the memory of patients with schizophrenia, as well as healthy subjects scoring high on delusional ideation, is corrupted by an increased number of incorrect memories held with high confidence, possibly relating to a jumping-to-conclusions or liberal acceptance bias in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. A new training approach is described that is intended to sharpen patients’ awareness of such errors and reduce confidence in fallible memories. Some empirical gaps and directions for further research are outlined. Delusional Thinking