Malingering

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Malingering is the purposeful production of falsely or grossly exaggerated complaints with the goal of receiving a reward. These may include money, insurance settlement, drugs or the avoidance of punishment, work, jury duty, the military or some other kind of service.

A malingerer may respond to items in a certain manner to attain release from incarceration. One example is the case of Ganser syndrome, which is when a person tailors their answers to fake psychosis. This syndrome is also known as approximation, or nonsense syndrome.

Malingering can lead to abuse of the medical system, with unnecessary tests being performed and time being wasted by the clinician as opposed to those with legitimate health problems.

A malingerer may attempt to raise the temperature of a thermometer through heat from a lamplight or alter a urine sample by adding sand to it; however, if the malingerer is more discreet, the clinician will have great difficulty gathering evidence for an accurate diagnosis.

Malingering. Last reviewed 01/08/2010

Sources:

  • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • DSM-IV(TM) Made Easy: The Clinician's Guide to Diagnosis