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Factitious Disorders

Coming Face-to-Face with Factitious Disorders

Factitious disorders are a variety of condition where a person acts as though they have an illness by purposefully producing, pretending or exaggerating the symptoms. In the past, this was simply called Munchausen syndrome, a disorder where “patients” would go to great lengths to do things like contaminate urine samples, taking hallucinogenic drugs, exposing themselves to bacteria, etc. in order to obtain a desired diagnosis. The motives of the various factitious disorders are many, ranging from attempting to obtain sympathy from others, a need for nurturance or simply a cry for attention. It is important to note, however, that factitious disorders like Munchausen’s are NOT the same as “malingering” but is actually a mental disorder that may indicate an underlying personality disorder. This might manifest as an obsession with the patient role, early childhood abuse, a history of neglect or abandonment or other issues that may have existed with the parents.

  • Factitious disorders are not the disease they attempt to exhibit, but instead are instances of a mental disorder.
  • Some relief may be found by pairing psychotherapy options with medications like SSRIs or anti-psychotics.
  • Progress must be made to help the individual find their own value and worth aside from their illness or desired diagnosis.

Factitious Disorders are Serious Syndromes

While some may feel justified in writing off factitious disorders as an eccentricity, the reality is that these disorders are truly a mental illness and should be treated with the gravity such situations deserve. It’s critical to find help to treat and address the underlying motives and causes for the need to manifest imaginary illnesses and diseases. A great deal of time and effort is required to maintain the illness and there is always a risk that the attempt to “catalyze” an illness could ultimately prove fatal if left unchecked. An embolism after an injection or other instances of careless mistakes could leave the Munchausen’s sufferer debilitated by an actual disorder more serious than the one they were attempting to contract in the first place.

Treatment Options for Factitious Disorders

There are a number of treatment options available for those suffering from factitious disorders. Depending on the severity of the inclination, there are in- and out-patient facilities, individual and group meetings, medications and a host of other holistic methods for addressing the issues inherent in factitious disorders. The secret to a successful strategy is working closely with a mental health professional to customize a treatment plan of action that allows you to create a campaign that is perfectly tailored to your needs. You should also plan on meeting with your family doctor or general practitioner to start the process of the referrals you’ll need in order for treatment options to be covered by your health insurance policy or plan.

Repair Relationships

When someone suffers from a factitious disorder, relationships can wind up damaged along the way. After the acting and level of manipulation, it can be difficult to re-establish trust and repair the relationships that have been damaged. This can be incredibly healing and helpful for the sufferer as they come to terms with the fact that they have worth and value above and beyond their need to be nurtured or cared for. Friends, family members and other loved ones can meet with your doctors and mental health care professionals as they learn more about the disorder and how they can distort the self-worth and entire personality of those who suffer from factitious disorders. Regardless of the situation, there is hope for the suffering and this is where the journey begins.

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