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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2002;30(3):391-9.

Factitious disorders in civil litigation: twenty cases illustrating the spectrum of abnormal illness-affirming behavior.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Physical symptoms are commonly alleged in civil litigation. In some instances these symptoms are originally produced by psychological factors and antedate the alleged injury being claimed as a tort. These cases reflect abnormal illness-affirming behavior. Factitious physical disorders represent a special category of these individuals because they produce their signs and symptoms consciously. This article reviews common features of 20 cases of factitious disorder in which the patients were involved in civil litigation. Attention to these factors can facilitate differential diagnosis, which can lead to improved understanding of causation and appropriate clinical interventions. The authors discuss how the actions of such individuals often shift along the entire spectrum of abnormal illness-affirming behavior over time.

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