What is it?

Malingering is the fabrication, feigning, or exaggeration of physical or psychological symptoms designed to achieve a desired outcome, such as relief from duty or work. Malingering is not a medical diagnosis but may be recorded as a "focus of clinical attention" or a "reason for contact with health services ." Malingering is distinct from other forms of excessive illness behavior, such as somatization disorder and factitious disorder, although not all mental health professionals agree with this formulation.

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Signs & symptoms

Malingering doesn’t have specific symptoms. Instead, it is suspected when someone suddenly starts having physical or psychological symptoms while:
- being involved with a civil or criminal legal action
- facing the possibility of military combat duty
- not cooperating with a doctor’s examination or recommendations
- describing symptoms as being much more intense than what a doctor’s exam reveals


Malingering is a medical diagnosis, but not a psychological condition. It’s often hard to diagnose because doctors don’t want to overlook any actual physical or psychological conditions. Diagnosis usually includes physical examination and open-ended interviews to understand a person physical and mental health. This interview will cover how a person’s symptoms impact their daily life. A doctor will also try to get a timeline of any behavioral, emotional, or social events. They may do a follow-up exam to check for inconsistencies between someone’s description of their symptoms and what the doctor finds during an exam. If a doctor concludes that someone is likely malingering, they may reach out to their other doctors, family members, friends, or co-workers for more information about their health.


Treatment includes:
- Behavioral therapy
- Psychotherapy
- Counseling

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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