Malingering: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression

  • Keith Nicholson
  • Michael F. Martelli


It has long been known that it is possible to feign mental or other disorders and not be detected. Barrows (1971) showed that a wide range of psychiatric, neurologic, pain, fatigue, or other problems, in which there are usually few physical findings, could be readily simulated in the context of teaching or examining medical students. Psychiatric symptoms or syndromes that were readily simulated included depression, agitation, psychosis, neurotic reactions, and thought disorder. Neurologic symptoms that could easily be feigned included paralysis, sensory loss, reflex changes, extensor plantar responses, gait abnormalities, cranial nerve palsy, altered levels of consciousness, coma, seizures, and hyperkinesias. Even after being warned that there were simulators among the examinees, experienced clinicians found it difficult to detect them. Rosenhan (1973) reported that 12 people posing as “pseudopatients” and presenting with some psychiatric symptoms were able to gain admission to psychiatric hospitals in five different states. All but one of the 12 were diagnosed with Schizophrenia and none of the pseudopatients were detected despite hospital stays of from 7 to 52 days.


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Validity Scale Incremental Validity Combat Veteran Psychological Assessment Resource 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Nicholson
    • 1
  • Michael F. Martelli
    • 2
  1. 1.Comprehensive Pain ProgramToronto Western HospitalToronto
  2. 2.Concussion Care Centre of VirginiaGlen Allen

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