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Planting a misdiagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in a person's mind

  • Harald Merckelbach (a1), Marko Jelicic (a1) and Cees Jonker (a2)

Objective: There is an extensive corpus of knowledge about how misinformation may distort autobiographical memories. A diagnostic error can be conceptualised as a form of misinformation.

Methods: The authors discuss the case of a 58-year-old woman who was given a misdiagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Results: The patient was deeply convinced that the diagnosis was correct, even when she was confronted with contradictory evidence.

Conclusion: A diagnosis is not a neutral piece of information. It profoundly affects the lives of patients. The consequences of a misdiagnosis may be similar to persistent false memories.

Corresponding author
Dr Harald Merckelbach, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands. Tel: 043 3881945; Fax: 043-3884196; E-mail:
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Acta Neuropsychiatrica
  • ISSN: 0924-2708
  • EISSN: 1601-5215
  • URL: /core/journals/acta-neuropsychiatrica
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