Faking Mental Illness (Factitious Disorder)


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Page last updated: 27/09/2022

Faking Mental Illness (Factitious Disorder)

In this article, we explore Faking Mental Illness known as Factitious Disorder.

What is Factitious Disorder?

Factitious illness is a severe psychiatric disorder in which by being ill, deliberately getting sick,, or self-injury, someone manipulates others. The factitious condition may also occur when loved ones or caregivers gradually present them as sick, disabled, or damaged, such as infants.

Symptoms of a factitious disorder can vary from mild (slight exaggeration of symptoms) to intense (formerly known as Munchausen syndrome). To persuade others that care, such as high-risk operation, is required, they can make fake symptoms or even manipulate diagnostic exams.

Factitious illness isn’t just about devising medical conditions, such as opting out of a job or winning a trial, for practical gain. While individuals with factitious disorder recognize that they cause their symptoms or diseases, they do not know the reasons for their actions or accept that they have an issue.

It is difficult to understand and difficult to treat factory illness. However, to avoid severe harm or death incurred by this condition’s self-harm characteristic, medical and psychological assistance are crucial.

The factitious disorder’s symptoms include imitating or generating disease or disability or overstating symptoms or weakness intended to deceive others. To conceal their deceit, people with the condition go to incredible lengths, so it can be hard to believe that their symptoms are simply part of a severe mental disorder. Even after getting any noticeable gain or compensation or when confronted with empirical evidence that doesn’t back up their claims, they proceed with the deceit.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Extensive understanding of medical terminology and illnesses
  • Symptoms that are ambiguous or contradictory
  • Conditions that, for no particular cause, get worse
  • Conditions that do not react to conventional treatments as anticipated
  • Seeking care from several different physicians or clinics, including the use of a false name.
  • Unwillingness to encourage physicians to speak to families or friends or other practitioners in healthcare services
  • Frequent hospitalizations
  • Desire to have regular testing or unsafe tasks
  • Numerous surgical wounds or proof of multiple operations
  • When hospitalized, with very few visitors
  • Making an argument with physicians and workers

The factitious disease forced on someone else (formerly referred to by proxy as Munchausen syndrome) is when someone deliberately reports that someone has physical or psychological signs or symptoms of illness or induces injury or disease in another person with the intent of tricking others.

People with this condition present another individual as ill, wounded, or having trouble working, stating that medical care is required. This typically involves a parent hurting a child. This type of violence can place a child at an extreme risk of harm or unwanted medical treatment.

It could be challenging for health care workers and family and friends to know whether ailments are genuine or not because people with factitious condition become specialists at feigning symptoms and diseases or causing severe injuries for themselves.

People with the factitious condition develop symptoms or cause diseases in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Overstating the present symptoms. They can overstate symptoms to look worse or more damaged than is real, even though an underlying medical or psychiatric condition is present.
  • Concocting History. They can create a false health history, such as pretending to have had cancer or AIDS, to loved ones, health care providers, or support networks. Or to suggest a disease, they can make fake health records.
  • Falsifying one’s symptoms. Symptoms such as stomach aches, seizures, or fainting may be false.
  • Causing Self Harm. For example, by administering themselves with pathogens, milk, chemicals, or feces, they can make themselves ill. They can be injured, slashed, or burned.
  •  To replicate diseases, they can take meds, such as anticoagulants or insulin. They can also intervene, with the healing process, such as reopening or infecting wounds.

People with the factitious condition may be well aware of the consequences of trauma or eventual death of self-harm or the care they are pursuing, but their actions can not be managed, and they are unwilling to seek help. They sometimes dismiss it and reject medical assistance even when faced with tangible evidence, such as a video recording, to create their disease.

It might make sense to try a calm discussion about your worries if you feel that a loved one could be overstating or feigning medical conditions. Try avoiding annoyance, judgment, or conflict. Work to improve and promote healthier, more constructive habits instead of dwelling on unhealthy values and behaviors. Give love and support and, if necessary, aid with seeking assistance.

Faking Mental Illness (Factitious Disorder)

Causes of Factitious Disorder

The origin of the factitious condition is not established. However, a mixture of psychological factors and adverse life experiences can trigger the disorder.

Risk factors of Factitious Disorder

  • Traumatic experiences in childhood like physical, sexual, or emotional assault
  • A significant illness in childhood
  • The demise of a loved one, illness or neglect of a loved one
  • The exposure earned by past experiences during illness
  • A weak self-esteem
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression
  • Eagerness to be involved with doctors or hospitals
  • Work in the healthcare domain

It is considered rare to have the factitious disorder; however, how many individuals have the condition is not established. Some individuals use fake identities to remain undetected, some visit several different healthcare facilities, and some are not known, all of which make it tough to get an accurate figure.

Complications of Factitious Disorder

Many with factitious disorder are prepared to risk their lives to be seen as ill. They can also have other diseases of mental health. They encounter many potential complications as a consequence, including:

  • Harm or mortality from self-inflicted health conditions
  • Due to disease or unwanted operation or other treatments, serious health issues
  • Organ or limb damaged due to unwanted surgery
  • Alcohol or Substance abuse
  • Significant issues in normal routine, friendship, and job 
  • Considered as abuse when behavior imposed on another citizen

Prevention of Factitious Disorder

Since the origin of the factitious condition is unclear, there is no known way to avoid it at present. Early diagnosis and treatment of factitious disorder can help prevent examinations and treatments that are dangerous and potentially hazardous.

Diagnosis of Factitious Disorder

It is also highly hard to diagnose factitious disorders. Individuals with factitious disorder are specialists at feigning several common illnesses and diseases. And sometimes, even if these disorders may be self-inflicted, they have serious and quite often life-threatening medical problems.

The use of several medical providers by the client, fake identity, and anonymity and security regulations might make it difficult or impossible to gain information on previous medical conditions.

Treatment of Factitious Disorder

Treatment is made on the objective recognition of indications produced, instead of the intent or encouragement of the person to do so. A doctor can assume a factitious condition if:

  • The health history of the individual does not make sense,
  • There is no credible cause for an illness or disability,
  • The disease does not adopt the customary path.
  • After adequate care, there is a decline of recovery for no apparent cause.
  • Symptoms or laboratory test findings are conflicting or ambiguous.
  • The person refuses to disclose results from past medical records, other health care practitioners, or close family members.
  • In the act of deception or inflicting an injury, the person is seized.

Doctors can help decide if someone has a factitious condition,

  • Perform a detailed interview
  • Requiring prior medical history
  • For more detail, collaborate with close relatives if the individual gives consent.
  • Run only the requisite assessments to resolve potential physical issues
  • In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, the criterion for the factitious disorder can be used.

Treatment of the factitious condition is always complicated since there is no effective therapy. Since people with factitious disorder like to be in an unhealthy situation, they are often reluctant to seek care for the condition or acknowledge it. However, a person with factitious disorder can consent to be examined by a mental health professional if addressed in a friendly, non – judgemental manner.

  • Finding a specialist for patient healthcare. Using one doctor or another facilitator to supervise medical treatment may help coordinate the course of treatment and the required care and minimize or avoid visits to multiple physicians, clinicians, and surgeons.
  • Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) and behavioral therapy may help to manage stress levels and improve coping strategies. Family counseling can also be recommended, if possible. It can also resolve other mental health problems, such as depression.
  • Medicine. Mental health problems such as depression or anxiety can be treated with drugs.
  • Hospitalization. A temporary stay in a psych facility may be appropriate for protection and care in serious cases.
  • Treatment, particularly for individuals with serious factitious disorder, may not be tolerated or may not be effective. The goal could be to prevent more intrusive or harmful procedures in these situations.

These strategies will benefit people who have factitious condition along with clinical treatment:

  • Commit to the schedule for treatment. Visit medical appointments and, as instructed, take any medicines. Speak frankly to your psychiatrist or primary healthcare doctor for effective ways of dealing with feelings if you have any desire to hurt yourself or potentially cause yourself to become sick.
  • Have a medical guardian. Instead of consulting several physicians, clinicians and surgeons, have one trustworthy primary provider administer medical attention.
  • Recollect the dangers. Warn yourself that you might face serious injury or even death every time you injure yourself or have a risky test or procedure unnecessarily.
  • Just don’t run. Avoid attempts to find a different physician or to migrate to a new place where your past is not exposed to health personnel. Your therapist will help conquer this strong urge.
  • Interacting with somebody. There is an absence of friendships and other interactions for many people with factitious disorder. Attempt to find somebody you can trust, spend fun times with, and give your aid.


In this article, we explore Faking Mental Illness known as Factitious Disorder.

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FAQ: Faking Mental Illness

Can you convince yourself you have a mental illness?

Self-Fulfilling Fakery: Mental Illness Feigning is a way of self-deception. A recent study indicates that people who falsify mental illness symptoms may reassure themselves that they have specific symptoms.

Can you fake dementia?

The word “pseudodementia” means fake or pretended mental illness, and that phrase has also been extended to any fake mental disorder. But from the 1960s onwards, the term came to refer more precisely to the condition where a “working” psychiatric disorder imitates dementia.

Can your mind create symptoms?

It’s considered psychosomatic if somatic symptoms are triggered or made worse by your mental condition. Many individuals assume that psychosomatic symptoms are not genuine. However, they are genuine symptoms with a psychological origin.