Cryptomnesia: a three-factor account

Christopher Jude McCarroll*, André Sant’Anna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Understood as a psychological phenomenon, there has been very little discussion of cryptomnesia in the philosophical literature. Cryptomnesia presents us with a strange phenomenon in which we take ourselves to be imagining, but the thought or idea that we entertain actually involves remembered content. In this paper, we argue for a three-factor account of cryptomnesia, according to which it is a mnemonic phenomenon that involves imagination. We provide an account of both the ‘mnemonic’ and ‘imaginative’ aspects of cryptomnesia in terms of the attitude, the content, and the metacognitive processes involved in those states. In addition, we show how our three-factor account is better suited to account for cryptomnesia than competing philosophical theories of episodic memory. We conclude by discussing how the three-factor account sheds light on a range of other mnemonic and imaginative phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Causal theory
  • Cryptomnesia
  • Imagining
  • Metacognition
  • Remembering
  • Simulation theory


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