(Also Known As: Fabricated Mental Illness, Faked Mental Illness, Munchausen Syndrome, Factitious Disorder)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Malingering?

Malingering is a mental or psychological disorder that is also commonly referred to as fabricated mental illness, with legal impediments marked by the deliberate intention of an individual to exaggerate their mental or physical symptoms due to a variety of motives. This includes the desire to obtain financial compensation, which is often associated with fraud, getting lighter criminal offense, obtaining drugs, attempts to get out of school, avoiding work, and to attract sympathy and attention. 1

Malingering can have an impact on insurance fraud, since malingerers can continue claiming for a disability income benefits by taking continuous sickness and disability. A distinction is made with malingering from somatization and factitious disorders. Malingerers usually exaggerate their condition, being motivated to obtain a primary or secondary gain, whereas in somatization disorder and factitious disorders the gain is not obvious. 2

There are different types of malingering as follows:

  • Pure malingering – the individual feigns all their symptoms to obtain an external purpose.
  • Partial malingering – the individual has either mental or physical symptoms but exaggerates its actual impact on their daily functioning.
  • Simulation malingering – the individual tries to emulate a symptom of a specific disability or there is dissimulation as the patient denies the occurrence of a problem that could account for the symptoms, such as in the case of drug abuse.
  • False Imputation – the individual manifests a valid symptom however tries to be dishonest to the source of the problem, such as attributing them to a car accident when in fact the accident actually occurred at home.

Could You Have Malingering?

Malingering Topics

Related Conditions

Antisocial Personality Disorder – conduct disorder, sociopaths, psychopaths, deceitful, manipulative, behavior disorder
Factitious Disorder – feigning symptoms, exaggerates physical and psychological condition,
Hypochondriasis – fear of having serious disease, misinterpretation of body symptoms
Munchausen Syndrome – chronic factitious disorder, faking/feigning of psychological and mental illness, severe