Factitious disorder is a serious mental health disorder in which a person appears to be ill or produces a physical or mental illness. People with a fictional disorder deliberately produce symptoms of an illness in order to receive care in a medical setting.

The symptoms are not intended for practical benefit; the benefit is believed to be primarily psychological.

What are the warning signs of factitious disorder?


Possible warning signs of factitious disorder include:

  1. Dramatic but inconsistent medical history.
  2. Unclear symptoms that cannot be controlled, become more severe or change once treatment has started.
  3. Unpredictable relapses after improvement of the condition.
  4. Extensive knowledge of hospitals and / or medical terminology. As well as textbook descriptions of diseases.
  5. Presence of many surgical scars.
  6. Appearance of new or additional symptoms after negative test results.
  7. Presence of symptoms only when the patient is alone or not being observed.
  8. Willingness or desire to undergo medical examinations, operations or other procedures.
  9. History of seeking treatment in many hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, possibly even in different cities.
  10. Patient reluctance to allow healthcare professionals to meet or speak with family, friends, and former healthcare providers.
  11. Refusal of psychiatric or psychological evaluation.
  12. Predict negative medical outcomes even though there is no evidence.
  13. The patient sabotages discharge plans or falls ill suddenly when he is about to be discharged from the hospital.
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What Causes Factitious Disorder?

The exact cause of factitious disorder is unknown, but researchers believe that both biological and psychological factors play a role. Some theories suggest that a history of childhood abuse or neglect, or a history of frequent illnesses in themselves or in family members that required hospitalization, may be factors in the development of the disorder.

Most patients with factitious disorder have a history of abuse, trauma, family dysfunction, social isolation, early chronic medical illness, or professional experience in healthcare (nursing education, healthcare work, etc.).

8 things you should know about fictional disorder

Finally, as a healthcare professional you need to know the following facts about the fictional disorder.

1.) Electronic medical records have made identification easier.

2.) People with factitious disorder are “professional patients”.

3.) Social media has made it easier for patients to mislead a wider audience.

4.) Factitious disorder imposed on another is a form of abuse.
Every time a person feigns or creates an illness in someone they care for, it is considered a form of abuse. This can be done to a child, an older adult, or someone with a disability.

5.) Attention is often the main motivator.

6.) The cause is complex.

7.) It takes a village to diagnose.

8.) Treatment is available.

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