Understanding Factitious Disorders

Factitious Disorders
Understanding Factitious Disorders


Factitious disorder is a mental health condition that causes a person to behave as if they have a physical or mental illness, when in fact they don’t. Although it may not seem that unusual to fake the symptoms of illness to get attention, a person with factitious disorder is often prepared to go to great lengths to get sympathy from others. It is not unusual for someone with the condition to undergo testing or even surgery in order to attract the special attention they need.

What Is Factitious Disorder?

Factitious disorder is considered to be a mental health disorder because it entails serious emotional difficulties and stressful circumstances. There are two types of factitious disorder:

  • The sufferer themselves falsifies physical or psychological symptoms of illness. One example is a person mimicking the behavior of a mental illness such as schizophrenia. They may deliberately appear confused and make random statements giving “clues” of their fake condition.
  • The sufferer projects the symptoms of illness on someone in their care such as a child or elderly adult. This type of factitious disorder is mostly present in mothers and a sufferer may intentionally harm their ward just to receive attention.

What are the Warning Signs of Factitious Disorder?

  • Some red flags a person may have factitious disorder include the following:
  • An unnaturally dramatic medical history
  • Symptoms that are beyond the person’s control that change when treatment has started
  • A relapse almost inevitably follows an improvement in the condition
  • The person has extensive knowledge of hospitals and medical terminology
  • They may have surgical scars resulting from unnecessary procedures
  • A reluctance for family members or friends to meet medical staff treating them

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