Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Factitious Disorder Definition:

A person who feigns symptoms of some illness as an attention-seeking strategy.

Related Terms: Munchausen's Syndrome, Factitious Disorder by Proxy, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD or ADD

In their 1999 article Factitious disorders and trauma-related diagnoses published in the The Journal of Psychiatry & Law, Brown and Scheflin, use these words:

"A factitious disorder is best defined as an artificial production
or simulation of a disease [or history. Like malingering, factitious behaviour involves deliberate deception and often intentional self-harm. Symptoms are dramatically presented, and the production of symptoms and/or histories is exaggerated when the patient is being observed. According to Folks and Freeman,1 the three essential clinical features include pathological lying, recurrent simulated illnesses, and wandering from clinic to clinic assuming a sick role."

As to the history of the medical community's identification o the disorder, the authors continue:

"Factitious disorder first appeared as a diagnosis in the third edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-III, published in 1980. A person with a factitious disorder voluntarily feigns symptoms of some illness in order to derive the attention accompanying the "sick role."

Despite attempts to clarify the parameters of this rather new diagnostic entity in the successive versions of DSM-III-R and DSM-IV, factitious disorder patients remain "a poorly understood group of people."



Brown, Daniel , Scheflin, Alan W., Factitious Disorders and Trauma-Related Diagnosis, 27 J. Psychiatry & L. 373 (1999)

NOTE 1: Relying on D.G. Folks & A.M. Freeman, "Munchausen's Syndrome and Other Factitious Illness," Psychiat. Clin. N. Am., 8:263-278, 1985.

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