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Factitious disorder imposed on self (Munchausen syndrome)

Michael R Irwin, MD
Brenda Bursch, PhD
Section Editor
Joel Dimsdale, MD
Deputy Editor
David Solomon, MD


Factitious disorder imposed on self is characterized by falsified general medical or psychiatric symptoms [1]. Patients deceptively misrepresent, simulate, or cause symptoms of an illness and/or injury in themselves, even in the absence of obvious external rewards such as financial gain, housing, or medications. Factitious disorder imposed on self is distinguished from factitious disorder imposed on another, such as a child or older adult. Early investigation of a possible factitious disorder can prevent patient self harm as well as iatrogenic complications arising from unnecessary tests and treatments.

Factitious disorder was previously referred to as Munchausen syndrome [2]. Some studies retain the eponym Munchausen syndrome to refer to severe, chronic, and dramatic cases marked by habitual lying, peregrination, and use of aliases; these patients are usually male and constitute a small minority of patients with factitious disorder [3,4].

This topic reviews the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, assessment, diagnosis, differential diagnosis, management, and treatment of factitious disorder imposed on self. Factitious diarrhea, factitious hypoglycemia, dermatitis artefacta, and factitious disorder imposed on another (child) are discussed separately.

(See "Factitious diarrhea: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and management".)

(See "Factitious hypoglycemia".)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jan 15, 2016.
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