Factitious Disorder

(Munchausen Syndrome)

Definition

Factitious disorder is a mental illness in which a person makes up an illness or injury. A person with factitious disorder may claim to have the psychological symptoms of a mental illness or the physical symptoms of a medical illness. The term Munchausen syndrome is sometimes used to refer to factitious disorder with severe physical symptoms.In addition, factitious disorder by proxy (or Munchausen syndrome by proxy) falls into this category. Factitious disorder by proxy involves a parent claiming their child has psychological or physical symptoms in order to get needless medical attention for the child. Factitious disorder may be confused with another type of mental disorder called somatoform disorder. If a person has this disorder, then they are not pretending to be sick. The person really believes that there is something physically wrong. However, the symptoms are actually due to psychological issues.Factitious disorder is also different from malingering, which occurs when a person pretends to be sick for some kind of clear benefit, such as money, food, or housing.
Receiving Medical Treatment
Man gurney physician
People with factitious disorder seek unnecessary medical treatment.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The exact cause of factitious disorder not known. However, it may be a mixture of biological and psychological factors. Some possible causes may include:
  • Having frequent illnesses early in life
  • Being abused or rejected by a parent
  • Identifying with someone who had an illness

Risk Factors

Factitious disorder is more common in people who are young or middle-aged. Factors that may increase your risk of factitious disorder include:

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