factitious disorder

noun

variants or less commonly factitious disease
plural factitious disorders also factitious diseases
: a psychological disorder that is characterized by the intentional feigning, exaggeration, or induction of the symptoms of a disease or injury in oneself or another and that is accompanied by the seeking of excessive medical care from various doctors and medical facilities typically resulting in multiple diagnostic tests, treatments, procedures, and hospitalizations
Unlike the malingerer, who consciously induces symptoms to obtain something of value, the patient with a factitious disorder consciously produces symptoms for unconscious reasons, without identifiable gain.Paul R. Linde

Note: Individuals with factitious disorder may use different methods to induce, simulate, or fake the symptoms of disease or injury including ingesting various substances (such as vitamins, minerals, or drugs) to produce symptoms, physically injuring themselves, feigning physical disease symptoms, contaminating diagnostic specimens, or tampering with medical records. Factitious disorder typically involves self-imposed actions and the disorder may also be referred to as factitious disorder imposed on self or especially formerly as Munchausen syndrome. Less frequently, a person's actions are directed towards inducing symptoms in another individual (usually the person's child). In these cases, the disorder is typically referred to as factitious disorder imposed on another or especially formerly as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

Word History

First Known Use

1978, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of factitious disorder was in 1978

Dictionary Entries Near factitious disorder

Cite this Entry

“Factitious disorder.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/factitious%20disorder. Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Medical Definition

factitious disorder

noun
variants also factitious disease
: a psychological disorder that is characterized by the intentional feigning, exaggeration, or induction of the symptoms of a disease or injury in oneself or another and that is accompanied by the seeking of excessive medical care from various doctors and medical facilities typically resulting in multiple diagnostic tests, treatments, procedures, and hospitalizations
Factitious disorder can present in multiple health care settings, with patients intentionally producing symptoms to assume the sick role.Mohammad Jefferany et al., The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders
But patients with factitious disorders are not malingerers—who fake illness for material benefits, such as narcotics or insurance disability payments. Nor are they hypochondriacs, who labor under the false impression that they're sick but are not.Melanie Hirsch, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York)

Note: Individuals with factitious disorder may use different methods to induce, simulate, or fake the symptoms of disease or injury including ingesting various substances (such as vitamins, minerals, or drugs) to produce symptoms, physically injuring themselves, feigning physical disease symptoms, contaminating diagnostic specimens, or tampering with medical records. Factitious disorder typically involves self-imposed actions and the disorder may also be referred to as factitious disorder imposed on self or especially formerly as Munchausen syndrome. Less frequently, a person's actions are directed towards inducing symptoms in another individual (usually the person's child). In these cases, the disorder is typically referred to as factitious disorder imposed on another or especially formerly as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

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