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Assessing Inconsistencies

Inconsistencies in a person’s story may arise from any or all of these factors. If possible, the investigator should ask for further clarification. These possibilities should be explored in detail. When clarification is not possible, the investigator should look for other evidence that supports or refutes the story. A network of consistent supporting details can corroborate and clarify the person’s story. Although the individual may not be able to provide the details desired by the investigator, such as dates, times, frequencies and exact identities of perpetrators, a broad outline of the traumatic events and torture will emerge and stand up over time.

If, on the other hand, the clinician suspects fabrication (sometimes called “simulation”), the clinician should try to identify potential reasons for exaggeration or fabrication, keeping in mind that fabrications may require detailed knowledge about trauma-related symptoms and findings that individuals rarely possess. It may be helpful to refer the individual to another clinician for a second opinion. If the suspicion of fabrication persists, it should be documented by both clinicians.