DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Factitious disorder is a serious mental disorder in which someone deceives others by appearing sick, by purposely getting sick, or by self-injury. Factitious disorder symptoms can range from mild (slight exaggeration of symptoms) to severe (previously called Munchausen syndrome). The person may make up symptoms or even tamper with medical tests to convince others that treatment, such as high-risk surgery, is needed.
A factitious disorder is not the same as inventing medical problems for practical benefit, such as getting out of work or winning a lawsuit. Although people with factitious disorder know they are causing their symptoms or illness, they may not understand the reasons for their behavior.
Factitious disorder is mysterious and hard to treat. However, medical and psychological help are critical for preventing serious injury and even death caused by the self-harm typical of this disorder.
May 02, 2014
- Factitious disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Jan. 10, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 8, 2013.
- Lipsitt DR. Factitious disorder and Munchausen syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 10, 2014.
- Flaherty EG, et al. Caregiver-fabricated illness in a child: A manifestation of child maltreatment. Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/08/20/peds.2013-2045. Accessed Jan. 19, 2014.
- Munchausen syndrome. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric_disorders/somatoform_and_factitious_disorders/munchausen_syndrome.html. Accessed Jan. 19, 2014.
- Bright RP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz. Feb. 16, 2014.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 20, 2014.