Factitious Disorder

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I think I might have factitious disorder. I don’t want to self diagnose myself but I’ve been struggling for a few years trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. I was diagnosed with social anxiety when I was 16 but it wasn’t good enough wanted to be worse, to have bipolar or schizophrenia. I tried to imitate the symptoms of them to get diagnosed and be put on stronger meds. I always want pity and attention from people. The minute something goes good in my life I hit the self-destruction button and do something to wreck it. I’ve been to the same rehab 3 times. I keep messing it up for myself looking for attention or pity. I’ve been drinking more and more to show people I have a problem. Its as if I want to be an addict. Its crazy it drives me mad. I hate myself when I lie or exaggerate. Is there something wrong with me? Am I just a horrible person, looking for attention and pity? I hate this how can I stop destroying myself. Any advice would be much appreciated. I’m off to rehab again soon and I’m terrified I’m going to do this again. Am I mentally ill? Just curious. Nothing has made sense to me until I heard about this disorder; maybe I’m wrong I don’t know I hope someone does though.

A: I think the answer isn’t about the diagnosis. It is to realize that you sabotage yourself on a regular basis. Forget about the diagnostic terms. You know the pattern and process and you know it causes you pain. That is enough. What is the difference what we call it? The bottom line is that there is a dysfunctional pattern, it brings you a great deal of grief, and the good news is that your distress has prompted a very healthy desire in you to change. Let’s work with that. All too often the emphasis is on the diagnosis, of what is wrong with us. Let’s start in a different place. Let’s ask what is happening in your life that is right. In other words, what are your strengths?

I would find a local therapist to work with (see the find help tab at the top of the page) and see if he or she can help you identify times when this destructive pattern occurred — but more importantly, try to find out when it isn’t operating, or when good things are happening in your life. Often there are positive patterns that emerge alongside the negative ones. Let’s see what they are.

In preparing for this you may want to look at the character strength survey. It is free and can help you identify what your strengths are, and how to build on them. If we don’t look to amplify our strengths, then all we are left with is a battle to stop symptoms.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Factitious Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/09/06/factitious-disorder/