The Munchausen syndrome in civil forensic psychiatry.

J. S. Janofsky,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law 22(4): 489-97, 1994.
The diagnosis of Munchausen syndrome requires that a patient intentionally produce or feign physical symptoms with a psychological need to assume the sick role. To differentiate the disorder from malingering one must document the absence of an external incentive for the patient's behavior. Although malingering is a major topic of interest in forensic psychiatry, there has been no literature that looks at the Munchausen syndrome presenting in the civil forensic setting. This paper reports on two cases of the Munchausen syndrome that occurred in the areas of medical malpractice and workers' compensation. The cases highlight how the psychiatrist should approach these cases in the civil forensic setting. The malpractice case also illustrates how the disorder is viewed by an appellate court.