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Factitious Disorder Symptoms

(Also Known As: Factishus Disorder Symptoms, Munchausen Syndrome Symptoms, Somatoform Disorder Symptoms, Factitious Symptoms, Malingering Symptoms)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What are the Symptoms of Factitious Disorder?

Persons with factitious disorder will often feign their illness and its symptoms through the means of providing factitious history alone, such as claiming having syncopal episode, or they may present accompanying symptoms with the factitious history that will mimic the disease such as adding exogenous blood to the urine to claim hematuria . The person may also go to the extent of presenting a factitious history with inducing an actual medical condition such as injecting themselves with bacteria to produce infection (as often seen in Munchausen syndrome).

Physicians should be aware of the warning signs that may indicate factitious disorder by identifying the following symptoms that indicate factitious disorder:

  • Dramatic yet inconsistent medical history
  • Unclear symptoms that are uncontrollable that become more severe once treatment is undertaken
  • Extensive knowledge about medical terminology and textbook description of the illness
  • Predictable relapses after the improvement of the condition
  • Appearance of new or additional symptoms after a negative test result
  • Presence of numerous surgical scars (gridiron abdomen)
  • Willingness and eagerness to undergo operation and other procedures
  • Presence of symptoms seen only when the person is with others or when being observed
  • Multiple admission of the patient to various hospitals in different cities
  • Patient is reluctant to allow the health care professional to talk with their family members or friends and prior doctors
  • Employment in medical related field
  • The patient often visits the emergency room at times when it is a holiday or late Friday afternoon where obtaining past medical records is difficult.
  • Admission circumstances that do not conform with the medical and mental disorder
  • Patients with very few visitors
  • Pseudologia fantastica or uncontrollable lying
  • Self inflicted physical injury
  • Eagerness to subject oneself with diagnostic procedure
  • Substance abuse, especially with prescribed analgesics and sedatives
  • Controlling, disruptive, hostile, angry and attention seeking behavior during hospitalization
  • Fluctuating clinical courses with rapid development of new symptoms of another disorder when the previous one presented with had negative findings.
  • The attitude of the person may range from being cooperative during assessment and treatment then become evasive and vague regarding details.
  • The patient’s mood and attitude may be brighter than one that is expected given the current medical condition of the patient.
  • Abnormalities in perception such as hallucination and disturbance of the thought process accompanied with psychological signs and symptoms.
  • Patients with Ganser syndrome will usually present an aberrant cognitive functioning.

Each form of factitious disorder also has its own specific characteristics to manifest:

Munchausen Syndrome

  • The person may be overly eager to undergo medical procedures repeatedly such as surgery at different hospital locations to avoid detection. Some would even inflict physical injury to their selves in order to present believable illness and medical condition such as self injection of bacteria

Munchausen by Proxy

  • The parent may falsify the child’s medical history and tamper the laboratory tests in order to make their child appear sick.
  • The victim is a young child usually 40 months old 5
  • The siblings have a history of death in early childhood with unexplained illness
  • There is history of long and frequent hospitalization visits
  • The mother is involved in a health care profession
  • The mother was diagnosed with depression and histrionic/borderline personality disorder
  • There is significant family history of dysfunction

Ganser’s Syndrome

  • The person provides absurd answers to simple questions often mistaken as malingering.
  • Common symptoms seen include:
    • Clouding of consciousness
    • Echolalia
    • Somatic conversion symptoms
    • Stress
    • Confusion
    • Loss of personal identity
    • Echopraxia
    • Provide approximate answers to simple questions
    • hallucination

Could You Have Factitious Disorder?

Factitious Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Adjustment Disorder – psychological response to identified stressors, anxiousness, depression, stress disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder – distorted behavior, self image and personality, mood disorder, dissociation
Dissociative Identity Disorder – multiple distinct personalities/identities, alter egos, memory loss, depression, de-realization, amnesia, phobias, anxiety
Dysthymic Disorder – chronic mood disorder, anxiety, depression, drug addiction, alcoholism
Malingering – fabricated symptoms for possible external gains, exaggerated symptoms, feigning symptoms of an illness
Munchausen Syndrome – feigning of symptoms and illnesses, malingering to draw sympathy from others
Narcissistic Personality Disorder – self centered, attention seeking, ego, self loved, conceit