Malingering is a person intentionally exaggerating or making up a physical or psychological illness or injury for personal gain. This includes paid sick leave, work avoidance, financial compensation, sympathy, or drugs. It is a voluntary behavior that is not considered a mental illness.


There is no physical or mental cause for malingering. It is solely caused by external motivating factors (personal gains) that varies from person to person.

Risk Factors

Malingering is most common in the school or work environment. It tends to occurs when there are legal disputes that involve money and medical issues. People with certain mental illnesses, such as antisocial personality disorder, may be more likely to participate in malingering.


Patient-reported symptoms will vary among people since they are based on the personal gain goals. The reported symptoms may seem inconsistent with general behavior.


There is no way to definitively diagnose malingering. Careful questions may lead doctors to suspect malingering. They will look for suspicious behaviors such as:
  • Inconsistency between reported symptoms and physical findings on a medical exam
  • Unwillingness to have recommended tests
  • Failure to comply with prescribed treatments
The doctor may also rule out true physical or mental causes of reported symptoms to make sure a medical condition is not present. Psychological assessments can also help rule out other disorders, such as Munchausen's syndrome .


Since it is not a true illness, there is no real treatment for malingering. When malingering is suspected, the doctor may:
  • Discuss the findings—if malingering is suspected, the doctor may confront the patient
  • Psychiatric consultation—a referral to a mental health professional may be given if a psychiatric disorder is suspected

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Music May Improve Sleep Quality in Adults with Insomnia
October 2015

Insomnia can make your days miserable and a cure can be hard to find. There are some medications but there is some worry with side effects and the potential for addiction. Music is side effect free and according to this study may help you find sleep.

dot separator
previous editions

CPAP May Help Older Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
September 2015

Water Before Meals May Promote Weight Loss
August 2015

Fecal Transplants Induce Ulcerative Colitis Remission
July 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »