About Factitious Disorders

This site is a forum for those who have had a history of a Factitious Disorder (formerly known as Munchausen Syndrome), a serious psychiatric disorder in which the sufferer fabricates or induces illness or injury in order to seek medical treatment. It frequently results in serious (legitimate) medical problems, such as complications from procedures or surgeries that were not medically necessary to begin with. An example of this would be infection in a post surgical wound that requires further treatment, frequently in an inpatient hospital

Patients with a FD often have accompanying personality disorders and some have an underlying depression, mood, or anxiety disorder. Pseudologia fantastica, a clinical way of saying someone is a compulsive liar, is a hallmark symptom. Patients will fabricate their medical history and often details about their personal lives, often for reasons only known to the sufferer.

Substance abuse disorders are common in those who suffer from a FD, but are by no means the rule. Most sufferers are unwilling to admit they have fabricated or induced their own suffering and when confronted with evidence that this is the case, may become defensive or will outright deny it. Some may exhibit psychological symptoms to defray the attention from the confrontation (Elwyn, Ahmed & Feldman, 2019).

A FD is a severe form of self-mutilation.

Self-harm is very difficult to stop. It is a way of dealing with uncomfortable or difficult feelings of anxiety, depression, or traumatic memories and the individual may feel a short-term sense of relief after harming. It offers the sufferer a feeling of self-control. Harming is often preceded by intense anxiety after which they feel a sense of relief (No Author, 2020).

Self-harm is also a very socially taboo subject. Mental illness has a huge stigma associated with it and the way it is viewed only adds to the stigma associated with it. And this may prevent sufferers from discussing it and also from seeking help for it.

Factitious disorders are often thought of as being resistant to treatment and many physicians (including psychiatrists) will not treat someone who is affected. Unfortunately, patients often have real and frequently serious health conditions that require medical treatment. Medications are generally felt to be of little value in the treatment of factitious disorders, though they can be effective at treating comorbid psychiatric disorders (mood and anxiety disorders). There is little literature on the treatment of this serious disorder. As someone who used to suffer from this disorder, I am currently working on a book that will discuss in greater detail the treatments that may be helpful.

REFERENCES

Elwyn, T., Ahmed, I., & Feldman, M, 2019. Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self (Munchausen Syndrome), Medscape. Retrieved from: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/291304-overview

No Author (2020). Self-harm. Mind.org-UK. Retrieved from: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-harm/about-self-harm/

%d bloggers like this: