Factitious disorder is pretending to have or producing physical or psychologic symptoms for no apparent external reason.
- The cause is unknown, but stress and a severe personality disorder may contribute.
- Symptoms may be dramatic and convincing.
- Individuals may wander from one medical professional or hospital to another in search of treatment.
- Medical professionals diagnose the disorder after excluding other disorders and after discovering evidence that symptoms have been faked.
- There are no clearly effective treatments, but psychotherapy may help.
Factitious disorder imposed on self was previously called Munchausen syndrome. Factitious disorder may also be imposed on someone else.
Individuals with factitious disorder imposed on self repeatedly fake having a disorder. If they have a disorder, they exaggerate or lie about the symptoms, pretending that they are sicker or more impaired than they are.
However, this disorder is more complex than simple dishonesty. It is a mental health problem that is associated with severe emotional difficulties.
What causes factitious disorder imposed on self is unknown, but stress and a severe personality disorder, most often borderline personality disorder, may be involved.
Individuals may have an early history of emotional and physical abuse, or they may have experienced a severe illness during childhood or had a seriously ill relative.
They appear to have problems with their identity and/or self-esteem, as well as unstable relationships.
Faking an illness may be a way to increase or protect self-esteem by blaming social or work problems on their illness, by being associated with prestigious medical professionals and medical centres, or by appearing unique, heroic, or medically knowledgeable and sophisticated.
Individuals with this disorder resemble malingerers because their actions are conscious and intentional.
However, unlike malingerers, individuals with factitious disorder are not motivated by external rewards (such as collecting insurance payments or getting time off from work).