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PSYC 406 AMU Conversion Reactions and Malingering Overview Discussion

PSYC 406 AMU Conversion Reactions and Malingering Overview Discussion


For this week’s Discussion, respond to the following: Describe how conversion reactions, real physical disorders, and outright malingering can be differentiated.

Remember that all posts are graded for substance and thoughtful consideration of the discussion topic. Your post must also end with a “Question to the Class” – something related to the topic that you found thought-provoking and about which you’d like to know more and have further dialog.

Classmate #1:

Hello Everyone!

Physical health disorders affect the physical state of the body. These are often treated with medication, surgeries, and physical therapy. Though it’s not easy to treat some of these disorders, since some unfortunately do not have a cure yet (Better Health Channel, 2015). Conversion disorder is a mental health condition that causes physical symptoms. It disrupts the brain and creates unusual activity in parts of the brain or less activity (Cleveland Clinic, 2022).

Malingering is not a mental illness, it’s when an individual fakes a mental illness. There can be various reasons why an individual would do this, such as to get out of accountability or exploit benefits. An individual can exaggerate or make up their symptoms (Tracy & Rix, 2017). I once saw a man on T.V. who tried to outrun police officers and faked a heart attack by breathing heavily, and this is the only “symptom” he displayed. The medical health professionals knew he was faking it but took him with them anyway. All this did was stall the situation.


While conversion disorder can cause physical symptoms, it’s more likely due to activity within the brain sending these signals. These are real symptoms and cannot be made up. Physical symptoms are not entirely the same as a physical disorder which can also be caused biologically. Malingering is not a mental illness and an individual can fake these symptoms for different reasons, and this can be seen often in legal cases

Question to the class:

Which of these is easier to fake, mental or physical illness?


Better Health Channel. (2015, September 18). Physical disabilities.

Cleveland Clinic. (2022, July 18). Conversion disorder. Cleveland Clinic.

Tracy, D., & Rix, K. (2017). Malingering mental disorders: Clinical assessment. BJPsych Advances, 23(1), 27-35. doi:10.1192/apt.bp.116.015958

Classmate # 2:

Hi Professor and class,

Conversion disorder, also known as Functional Neurological Disorder, can be described as neurological symptoms that are not characterized by any neurological disease or medical condition of any kind. The symptoms may include an inability to walk, see, or hear and may be persistent. It is unknown what causes this disorder; however, it is certain that this disorder is related to brain trauma of some kind.

Real physical disorders are types of medical conditions that are identifiable and diagnosable through clinical tests. They are not usually caused by psychological factors; however, they often have clear pathological criteria. Medical treatment is necessary in order to intervene and eliminate any underlying pathology.

Malingering refers to the intentional exaggeration of physical or psychological symptoms to gain sympathy or some sort of benefit. Malingering can also involve making up symptoms entirely for one’s personal gain. It is not always easy to detect Malingering, but when it is detected, it is a diagnosable psychiatric disorder as seen in the DSM-5.

Each of these disorders differ greatly, however, all of them involve clinical or psychological evaluations in order to be detected or diagnosed.

Question to class: How often do you think malingering is detected by clinicians or psychologists in the medical field? If you think it is detected often, how do you think that is possible?

Classmate # 3:

-Hello classmates,

Conversion reactions, real physical disorders, and outright malingering can be differentiated. To start, let’s define what conversion disorder is. According to our readings this week, conversion disorder can be described as symptoms that would point to a neurological disorder but no medical or neurological findings being able to pinpoint a disorder. Patients with conversion disorder can display motor symptoms such as paralysis, convulsions, blindness, seizures, and other sensory deficits. What is important to diagnosing conversion disorder is the requirement of a psychological stressor such as victimization or acute grief. Conversion disorder is also recognized in the DSM-5, while malingering would not be.

As I just mentioned, malingering is not in the DSM-5 and not considered a mental illness. When we talk about malingering, we are talking about someone faking or exaggerating a mental or physical illness for personal gain/ benefit of some kind. An important requirement in differentiating malingering from the others, is the necessity of an external gain as mentioned. Malingering differs from conversion reactions as conversion reactions happen unintentionally and/or unconsciously, where as malingerers are looking for specific gain.

In contrast to these two, real physical disorders will have a biological explanation for the patient’s symptoms they are experiencing.

Question to the Class: What is the treatment/management for conversion disorder versus malingering?


Maddux, J. E., & Winstead, B. A. (Eds.). (2015). Psychopathology: Foundations for a contemporary understanding (4th ed.). Routledge.

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