Patient or Pretender: Inside the Strange World of Factitious Disorders

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9780471120131: Patient or Pretender: Inside the Strange World of Factitious Disorders

As children, most of us played sick at one time or another to get our parents' sympathy and attention. In Patient or Pretender, psychiatrists Marc Feldman and Charles Ford take us into the strange world of people who take the game of playing sick to pathological, sometimes fatal, extremes. Driven by the need for attention, these people manufacture physical and psychological symptoms, often injuring themselves to get medical treatment. And, in the process, these "great pretenders" mislead and victimize their families and friends, baffle physicians, and wantonly consume precious medical resources.

Meet Jenny, the secretary who feigned breast cancer and went so far as to shave her head, lose weight, and even join a cancer support group. Then there is the mother who suffocated her own child so she could play the role of martyred parent. These compelling case studies read like medical detective stories, as doctors try to separate fact from fiction and explore the real causes of their patients' illnesses. Along the way, Drs. Feldman and Ford offer us insights, not only into the workings of desperate minds, but the human condition in general.

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About the Author:

Marc D. Feldman, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist and Medical Director of the University of Alabama Center for Psychiatric Medicine in Birmingham, and a well-known expert on factitious disorders.

Charles V. Ford, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Alabama's School of Medicine and Director of the University of Alabama Neuropsychiatry Clinic in Birmingham. He is an acknowledged expert on factitious psychosomatic disorders.

Toni Reinhold is an award-winning journalist and author. Her works include Untamed, the as-told-to autobiography of Gunther Gebel-Williams.

From Kirkus Reviews:

An unsettling account of the pathological behavior of people who carry ``playing sick'' to bizarre extremes. Psychiatrists Feldman and Ford, writing with Reinhold (coauthor, Untamed, 1991), use their own experiences as well as case studies from the medical literature to construct a patchwork portrait of the condition known as ``factitious disorder''--a mental disorder in which physical or psychological symptoms are feigned for emotional satisfaction. Factitious disorder may become the focus of a person's life and can take an extreme, chronic form known as Munchausen syndrome. Especially troubling are cases of Munchausen by proxy, in which parents inflict harm on children to create the appearance of illness in them. The authors reveal how skilled patient-pretenders can become at fooling doctors, nurses, and other caretakers with schemes to produce symptoms and create erroneous test results by putting blood or other substances into their urine, injecting themselves with insulin, or wounding, infecting, starving, or bleeding themselves. Numerous first-person narratives include accounts by either Feldman and Ford, as well as by those suffering from factitious disorder--and their victims. The authors seem both fascinated and exasperated by the syndrome and are clearly dismayed by the harm it causes not just to its sufferers but to those around them. But while Feldman and Ford's stated aim is to increase awareness of factitious disorder in order to make diagnosis and treatment more likely, they seem more concerned with exposing and weeding out than with helping, and their account comes close to being a freak show in which the grotesqueries on display are of central interest. An interesting subject regrettably presented with more sensationalism than science. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Marc D. Feldman; Charles V. Ford
Editore: Wiley (1995)
ISBN 10: 0471120138 ISBN 13: 9780471120131
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Marc D. Feldman, Charles V. Ford
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Feldman, Marc D., Ford, Charles V.
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