by Amy Scholten, MPH
Factitious disorder is a mental illness in which a person makes up an illness or injury. This is done for emotional reasons. The person may want attention and care. It is not done for money, food, or housing.
There are two types:
The cause of factitious disorder not known. It may be due to brain chemistry and emotional needs.
This condition is more common in people who are young or middle aged.
Things that may raise the risk are:
Symptoms may be:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done.
It is difficult to diagnose factitious disorder. The doctor has to rule out any real illness. A number of tests may be done. If no illness is found, the doctor may refer the patient to counseling.
Factitious disorder is difficult to treat. Some people refuse help. Others may agree to work with a mental health expert.
The goal is to treat the disorder and any other mental health problems. Options may be:
There are no current guidelines to prevent factitious disorder.
National Institute of Mental Health
National Mental Health Association
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
An overview of factitious disorders. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/an-overview-of-factitious-disorders. Accessed March 11, 2021.
Bass C, Wade DT. Malingering and factitious disorder. Pract Neurol. 2019;19(2):96-105.
Factitious disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/factitious-disorder Accessed March 11, 2021.
Münchhausen's syndrome. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/doctor/munchhausens-syndrome. Accessed March 11, 2021.
Somatic symptom and related disorders. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/somatic-symptom-and-related-disorders/. Accessed March 11, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 3/11/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.