How to Tell if Someone is Faking Mental Illness | Malingering / Factitious Disorder
Summary: Faking or exaggerating mental illness is very serious and an actual disorder. Typically, an underlying personality disorder is at play. Usually the Cluster B (dramatic) personality types (antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic) are the most likely culprits.
Table of Contents
Hi everyone! In this video I’m going to give you some tips to tell if someone is faking mental disorders. These tips may give you good insight into someone that may be faking, but it isn’t 100%, there are always exceptions. Faking a mental disorder can be called malingering or a factitious disorder depending on the conditions. But, it’s about someone lying or exaggerating their symptoms of a disorder.
Anyone who fakes mental disorders actually does have a mental disorder. They are manipulating the system, generally for personal gain. People who do this do have a mental disorder.
Usually the mostly likely culprits are the Cluster B (dramatic) personality disorders. I did a video dedicated to personality disorders and I will link to that specific part for anyone who is interested. [Personality Disorders] Anyway, the Cluster B (dramatic) personality disorders are just that, dramatic. They all share some common traits of exaggeration and malingering. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. These disorder include:
- Antisocial which is characterized by the disregard for others.
- Borderline which is characterized by intense emotions and feelings of emptiness and trying to avoid abandonment.
- Histrionic which is characterized by attention seeking, seductive behavior.
- And, narcissistic which is characterized by a bloated self image.
Another thing to note is that practically any disorder can be faked. Though, one of the most controversial ones is dissociative identity disorder. And this comes as no surprise actually, especially since many individuals with DID also fit the criteria for borderline personality disorder, which has characteristics of attention seeking, exaggeration and malingering. So, there will be many references to that in here.
Someone with borderline was most likely abused and abandoned during childhood. When they age, they think everyone will do the same to them because that is how their mind developed. So, because not everyone likes social isolation, these people may be very dramatic at how they try to fill the void they feel inside.
In regards to dissociative identity disorder, it is a real disorder, but can be so easily faked. Many people do not see how the disorder can exist at all, while others think it is a combination of amplified disorders, specifically borderline personality disorder. For you see, someone with a borderline personality will make a frantic attempt to avoid abandonment so they don’t feel empty inside. The individual may split their personality to have these different alters that will fit into various social groups so they have many friends to avoid that abandonment and emptiness. That is a primary feature of borderline, to avoid abandonment and the emptiness they feel. Which in the case of DID, would include trying to fit in with everyone. But, since one individual cannot fit in with every social group, they develop distinct personalities to fit into those other groups. The individual may think they have, or have even been diagnosed with DID, but in reality, they are just very dramatic and have a severe borderline personality. Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone with DID.
Finding this article helpful?
Everyone who fakes a mental disorder has a motive. Usually it is for personal gain, for sympathy from others, to apply for disability, to become well known, and/or to stand out. You have to look at what the person wants to get out of having these disorders.
People who truly struggle with the disorder want nothing more than to be rid of it so they can live a decent and somewhat ‘normal’ life. They may try and hide it from others so they are not judged for having a mental disorder. Those that fake will mostly like be proud that they have it and talk about it all the time, even to acquaintances.
Those that have the disorder will try their hardest to cope with it and to work things out. While those that are faking will let it consume them and do little to nothing to help get rid of the symptoms.
The next thing to watch out for are people who try and prove to you that they have the disorder. There is a difference between trying to prove a disorder exists, and trying to prove you have the disorder. The latter is mostly a way to prove to others that you have a disorder that you probably don’t have and could be faking. Sometimes they will go out of the way and give you overwhelming evidence that they have the disorder. Now, I can understand if someone isn’t taking the individual seriously when they need help, but other than that, why is there a need for someone to prove they have a disorder. Why does there need to be validation there?
Now, I do get upset when people say, “Don’t let that affect you. Don’t think like that. Stop worrying.” That is not right. I take offense to the fact that they are giving me orders, trying to force a way of thinking that I do not have. But also for the fact that the person isn’t taking me seriously. They do not understand the mental disorders, and thus cannot give proper advice on how to deal with it. Their advice to stop is offensive. However, I’m not going to prove anything to them. There is no need for anyone to prove themselves, especially when it comes to mental disorder.
The thing to take away from all this is that, do not believe anyone who tries to prove that they have a disorder. Trying to prove the actual disorder exists is fine, but not proving they have it.
Blame & Excuses
Watch out for people who blame everything on their illness and make excuses. Someone can do something they know isn’t right and say, “Oh, that was just my bipolar acting up.” That’s an excuse. They could use that to their advantage and get out of doing things, like going to work for example. Even those that truly have the disorder can inappropriately take advantage of it. That is so self-centered and wrong. Do you not care that you are manipulating others?
From a personal standpoint, I actually have done this before and I’m not proud of it. It was a time when I was coming to terms with my disorders and was in denial about them. So, an example with bipolar, there were times I was manic and would do things and I would go, “Oh haha! I am so manic right now. I have bipolar. Haha! Look at me.” This was because I was in denial. I was saying it as a joke. Like, “Haha! I have bipolar. Yeah right!”
When I came to terms with the disorders and actually accepted and acknowledged them as part of my character, I realized what I did was wrong. Now, I do not do those things. If I do something that I wouldn’t normally do because of one of my disorders, I will take responsibility and apologize with no excuses whatsoever.
When it comes to dissociative identity disorder, excuses and blame is a big factor. Someone could easily do something so out of character for them and when others find out they say, “Oh, that wasn’t me. That was one of my alters.” They may not even tell you. In their mind they may think what they did was right, because to them, they didn’t do it.
This infuriates me and here’s why. How bad is it for someone to hear that you didn’t do it, when they think you did. That’s not even apologizing to them, or even if you do you may say, “Alright, [this alter] did it and apologizes.” That is not a legitimate or appropriate apology to the person you wronged. Imagine how they feel by not getting the apology they wanted.
Those that truly struggle with the disorder will acknowledge the wrong doings of their alters and take the blame themselves and apologize, without excuse and without even bringing up who in the system did the wrong doing. Because those that struggle realize how stressful it truly is.
Another perfect example is if someone asked this individual if they smoked. They say, “Do you smoke?” Someone with DID may take that as whatever personality state is currently controlling the body. If that one doesn’t smoke, they answer ‘no.’ However, if the individual is aware that they do not smoke but they have an alter that does smoke, and they still answer ‘no,’ flat out lie. They are aware their body smokes and they are still saying they don’t. I’m sorry but I find that very very wrong. Then again, denying parts of the personality is a big part of DID. The person is detaching themselves from the alter they do not like that smokes and saying they do not since they do not like that side of them. Learning to deal with that is a big challenge for someone with DID.
As an example for me, I do not consider myself a sexual person at all. It’s not important to me and I could care less about it. That is the problem since I have been able to recognize that I do have a sexual side. I was not proud of it so I blocked it out, repressed it, and denied being sexual in any way. However, I am slowly learning to accept that part of me as me. I want to say that I am not a sexual person, but I know that would be a lie when it comes to my sexual side.
Next thing to be suspicious about are people who think they are unique and special because of some disorder they have. Some people are like, “I want to be noticed. I want to stand out. I want to be special. I am special because I have this and that.” Guess what, you’re not. I believe everyone is different in their own way. No two people are exactly alike. But, we are all equal. We may not have equal rights in the world, but deep down we are all the same.
Thinking you are different and stand out from everyone else, flaunting what you think makes you special, no. That is someone who needs to relearn that they are fundamentally no better nor worse than anyone else. Of course, having a delusional disorder makes one, including myself, think they are much greater than they really are. But deep down, I recognize that this as a delusion since my brain does not function the way I would like.
Some individuals with DID may think they are special because of how supposedly rare the disorder is. When you truly understand the disorder, you will realize that it is not rare at all. Because, it is a defense mechanism of all of our brains to dissociate from things we do not like or are traumatizing. However, some individuals are more susceptible to this. But in the end, we are all the same and equal.
Complaining & Bragging
Watch out for people who are dramatic and cry, complain, and brag about how much their life sucks. Who wants to listen to how miserable your life is? Those people are over-the-top to get attention, complaining about having a bad day, hurting themselves and showing the result for the world to see so others feel bad for them. Crying, quite literally, for attention. [Attention Seeking] It’s quite easy to spot a fake cry, but not when you become emotionally attached to the individual. These people are subliminally making you feel bad for them, so you are empathetic to their suffering. They are very tricky and deceptive and many people cannot catch on to their game.
I’m sorry but I dislike that with a passion. It’s people who are seeking attention, even if they are unaware of it. Do not feel bad for these people, because that is exactly what they want. Instead, these are people who do have a very serious problem. Avoiding them would be counterproductive and make them feel worse. They are people who truly need help and support, but the way their personality is and how they are approaching the way to fill what they are lacking in their life, is flawed.
They need to go through a lot of personal growth to be able to be happy with themselves so they do not involve the lives of others in their affairs. For anyone who does this, the best thing to do is to be grateful for what you do have in your life. There are so many people who are much worse off than you. You could be worse off than you are right now. So, see the positive of what you have in your life.
This can be difficult, and it may be hard to spot, and even being supportive to someone like this may not be enough to fill their emptiness. But, what everyone has to know is that it is their life. There is no reason for outsiders to feel bad for them. Personally, I do not believe in feeling bad for someone. There are people who have very difficult lives, but it is their life and only they should be in control of it. Feeling bad for them is getting involved in their personal matters that really has nothing to do with you. Helping them through the difficult time, however, is a great thing, but why the need to feel bad for them?
Well, I hope this video was informative. Thanks for watching!
I made this video about people who fake mental disorders, specially those that are seeking attention and are doing it for compensation and so others feel bad for them. I did this because I started to see people that would fake and seek attention and it was quite annoying. Though, how I came off in the video was quite negative. I truly didn’t mean for it to be, but I can see why so many people took offense to it. I wish I could’ve redone it so it wasn’t as negative since I truly am not a negative person. I think it was because I was rather angry at this and felt threatened because people would call me a fake and fraud. I got angry at the insults, so I addressed it, and unfortunately it came out rather negative.