Factitious disorders are disorders that are psychological disorders where the symptoms involve one faking, embellishing, adopting or complaining of physical ailments that do not exist or have a medical basis.
Factitious disorder by proxy commonly called Munchausen syndrome is when a person fakes, embellishes or exaggerates the symptoms of someone in their care. This disorder typically effects mothers with children.
People with these disorders have been known to contaminate their urine sample, inject bacteria and other substances into their blood stream and falsify tests with the intent of proving the point that they are very sick.
Criteria for Diagnosis
Persons that are suffering from this disorder meet certain criteria for diagnosis. The evidence of that factitious disorders are present are largely gathered from a patient history that includes:
• Numerous surgeries for minor conditions (elective surgeries)
• Hospital or doctor jumping
• There is no financial gain in creating illness (such as in collecting disability insurance)
• By proxy the child or other person under care can be “made”sick through different methods of improper care or they may not be sick but are convinced by the care giver that something is wrong and are taken to different doctors. The symptoms are exaggerated to friends and family
People that develop this disorder are motivated by attention seeking, sympathy but are NOT motivated by avoidance or money. Malingering and factitious disorders are NOT the same. Malingering occurs when there is a financial gain or when something is to be avoided and illness is made up to facilitate the avoidance or financial gain.
Factitious disorders are mental illness without criminal intent.
There are several causes that can produce this disorder. In most cases it is an underlying personality disorder that blossoms as a factitious disorder. Abandonment as a child or feelings of abandonment as a child can also cause this type of behavior. A history of frequent illness as a child can also result in these types of disorders. The duration of this disease may range from a few episodes to a chronic long term mental illness.
Properly treating FD is reliant on being able to treat the underlying disorder. In some cases SSRI medication can help.
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