How is factitious disorder imposed on self (Munchausen syndrome) diagnosed?

Diagnosing is very difficult because of the dishonesty and multiple health care providers involved. Healthcare providers must rule out any possible physical and mental illnesses, and often use a variety of diagnostic tests and procedures before considering this diagnosis.

If your healthcare provider finds your symptoms medically unexplainable, he or she might refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist — mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use a thorough medical history, physical history, laboratory imagery and psychological assessment tools to evaluate. Your healthcare provider bases his or her diagnosis on the exclusion of actual physical or other psychiatric disorders and his or her observations of your attitude and behavior. However, personality concerns are prominent and can make it that much more confusing to sort out what’s real and what isn’t. If you are hospitalized, you may work with a variety of healthcare providers to help determine a comprehensive care plan.

Your healthcare provider then determines if your symptoms compare to the criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the standard reference book for recognized mental illnesses in the United States.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/23/2020.

References

  • Merck Manual. Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self. Accessed 11/19/2020.
  • Jaghab K, Skodnek K, Padder TA. Munchausen’s syndrome and other factitious disorders in children. Psychiatry. 2006 Mar;3(3):46-55. Accessed 11/19/2020.
  • Yaacob BMJ. Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences. 1999 Jul;6(2):30-31. Accessed 11/19/2020.
  • NHS. Munchausen’s Syndrome. Accessed 11/19/2020.
  • Weber B, Gokarakonda SB, Doyle MQ. Munchausen Syndrome. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan. Accessed 11/19/2020.

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