What are Factitious Disorders?
Factitious disorders are when a person will deliberately try to look and behave like they are sick. They can present doctors with fake symptoms and medical records. Those with this disorder are not lying for the purpose of insurance payouts, money, or to acquire more prescription drugs. It can all be for the purpose of receiving attention that they feel they would not get if they were ill. Some even go as far as to self-harm themselves to make their “illness” look more convincing.
Alcohol or drugs can be used as a tool to make someone with a factitious disorder physically sick to further convince doctors and can develop another addiction on top of it.
Factitious disorder patients are looking for instant gratification from playing sick because they like receiving comfort from their family members, doctors, and nurses. They also want to escape the stresses of life by pretending to be weak and frail. Patients can also be indirectly punishing their loved ones by forcing them to be a caregiver. Sometimes, the problems can go even deeper where a patient’s parents did not give them the attention they were seeking unless they were sick or that they feel the need to compensate neglect or abuse when they were a child.
It is common for those in the medical profession to have a factitious disorder as they feel the life of a patient looks desirable and they have knowledge of how to fake symptoms or medical records. There are many different types of factitious disorders such as those who lie about only physical symptoms, only mental symptoms, or both. Munchausen Syndrome is where patients are satisfied deceiving physicians and are associated with sociopathic and pathological lying. Munchausen by Proxy is when a patient makes someone they love sick so that they will receive attention from that person.
It is common for those with a factitious disorder to suffer from substance abuse as alcohol or drugs can be used to reproduce symptoms of illness, such as using hallucinogens to fake psychosis, or to better help cope with anxiety or depression. When confronted about substance abuse, patients that try to appear ill end up hostile or defensive. There are many treatment options to recovery from both disorders such as intense individual counseling, pharmacological therapy, group therapy, detoxification, and therapeutic behavior modification to find the root to these symptoms and how to go forward.