Factitious Disorders



People with Factitious Disorders actually create their symptoms intentionally. They are not actually malingerers, faking these symptoms to avoid work or for financial gain, but neither are the symptoms unconsciously produced [See Somatoform Disorders in Glossary]. An individual with a Factitious Disorder has a powerful need to receive the care and attention that a sick person gets. There are severe underlying emotional problems (which must be identified and treated), leading the patient, for example, to lie about symptoms, to imitate symptoms of a real disease, or even to hurt himself intentionally to produce the desired symptoms, thus making his condition more believable. Sometimes, a real condition or illness may be present, but the patient, in the same ways mentioned, acts and talks as if the condition is much more serious than it actually is. The fabricated symptoms may be physical or psychological or both, but usually one or the other type is predominant.


Most patients with factitious disorders have co-occurring disorders as well, so not very much is known about the individual diagnosed solely with a factitious disorder. Even though the disorder, whether comorbid with others or not, is relatively rare, some of these patients have been hospitalized hundreds of times. It is important to diagnose these disorders accurately and treat the patient, not only for his own wellbeing, but also in order to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, surgeries, and procedures.