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Concept: Malingering


To measure specificity as failure rates for non-clinical, bilingual, Mexican Americans on three popular performance validity measures: (a) the language format Reliable Digit Span; (b) visual-perceptual format Test of Memory Malingering; and © visual-perceptual format Dot Counting, using optimal/suboptimal effort cut scores developed for monolingual, English-speakers.

Concepts: United States, Psychometrics, Test method, Reliability, North America, Mexican American, New Mexico, Malingering


Ganser’s syndrome is a rare and controversial condition, whose main and most striking feature is the production of approximate answers (or near misses) to very simple questions. For instance, asked how many legs a horse has, Ganser patients will reply “5”, and answers to plain arithmetic questions will likewise be wrong, but only slightly off the mark (e.g., 2 + 2 = 3). This symptom was originally described by Sigbert Ganser in 1897 in prisoners on remand and labeled Vorbeigehen (“to pass by”), although the term Vorbeireden (“to talk beside the point”) is also frequently used. A number of associated symptoms were also reported: “clouding of consciousness,” somatoform conversion disorder, hallucinations, sudden and spontaneous recovery, subsequent amnesia for the episode, premorbid traumatic psychosocial experience and/or (usually mild) head trauma. Etiological, epidemiological and diagnostic issues have never been resolved for Ganser’s syndrome. Ganser saw it as a form of “twilight hysteria,” whereas others suggested that malingering, psychosis or dissociation were more appropriate labels, oftentimes combined with organic impairment and a subjectively intolerable psychosocial context. A central conundrum of Ganser’s syndrome is whether it could simultaneously be a cultural and pathological representation of insanity, whereas cognitive, organic, affective, motivational and social factors would converge towards a naïve idea of what mental illness should look like, especially through the provision of approximate answers.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Psychosis, Forensic psychology, Factitious disorder, Malingering, Echopraxia, Ganser syndrome, Sigbert Josef Maria Ganser


Effort testing is a standard element in adult neuropsychological assessment. Research examining performance validity tests (PVTs) has focused on adults. The purpose of this descriptive study was to examine direct and embedded PVTs in children and adolescents. The Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM), a stand-alone PVT, was compared to two embedded measures of effort: California Verbal Learning Test-Children’s Version/Second Edition (CVLT-C/II) Recognition Discriminability and Reliable Digit Span (RDS). The sample consisted of 119 children and adolescents referred for outpatient assessment. Cut-off scores used for PVTs were based on previous studies. Results revealed 3/119 failures on the TOMM, 14/119 failures on the RDS, and 34/119 failures on the CVLT-C/II. There was a significant difference between failures on the TOMM and the RDS, as well as between failures on the TOMM and the CVLT-C/II and the RDS and the CVLT-C/II. The results of this study demonstrate that PVTs commonly used with adults may require modifications, including adjusted cut-off scores, to be appropriate with children and adolescents. Results of this study also suggest that relying on more than one measure likely provides the most utility.

Concepts: Psychometrics, Reliability, Neuropsychology, Adult, Neuropsychological assessment, Neuropsychological test, Clinical neuropsychology, Malingering


Little is known about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in veterans. Practice standards recommend the use of both symptom and performance validity measures in any assessment, and there are salient external incentives associated with ADHD evaluation (stimulant medication access and academic accommodations). The purpose of this study was to evaluate symptom and performance validity measures in a clinical sample of veterans presenting for specialty ADHD evaluation. Patients without a history of a neurocognitive disorder and for whom data were available on all measures (n = 114) completed a clinical interview structured on DSM-5 ADHD symptoms, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2-Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF), and the Test of Memory Malingering Trial 1 (TOMM1) as part of a standardized ADHD diagnostic evaluation. Veterans meeting criteria for ADHD were not more likely to overreport symptoms on the MMPI-2-RF nor to fail TOMM1 (score ≤ 41) compared with those who did not meet criteria. Those who overreported symptoms did not endorse significantly more ADHD symptoms; however, those who failed TOMM1 did report significantly more ADHD symptoms (g = 0.90). In the total sample, 19.3% failed TOMM1, 44.7% overreported on the MMPI-2-RF, and 8.8% produced both an overreported MMPI-2-RF and invalid TOMM1. F-r had the highest correlation to TOMM1 scores (r = -.30). These results underscore the importance of assessing both symptom and performance validity in a clinical ADHD evaluation with veterans. In contrast to certain other conditions (e.g., mild traumatic brain injury), ADHD as a diagnosis is not related to higher rates of invalid report/performance in veterans. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Traumatic brain injury, Assessment, Educational psychology, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Stimulant, Post-concussion syndrome, Personality test, Malingering


Since its initial description in 1851, Munchausen syndrome has been widely used interchangeably with factitious disorder. Nevertheless, this syndrome is only one form of factitious disorder that is both severe and chronic. The syndrome was named after Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Baron von Münchhausen (1720-1797), a German nobleman who became famous as a narrator of false and exaggerated exploits. His name was progressively corrupted to Munchausen. Factitious disorders and Munchausen syndrome remain a great diagnosis challenge for physicians. All medical specialities are concerned by these disorders. The diagnosis process involves a first step to exclude an unusual presentation of a common medical condition. The second step consists of excluding somatoform disorders and malingering. Unfortunately, the boundaries between factitious disorder, somatization, and malingering are often unclear. In 1977, the term “Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy” was coined to define a situation where a person produces false symptoms in another one, especially a child. This term was extended to similar interactions between human and pets. Because varied conditions have been included in the definition of this syndrome, there is ongoing debate about alternative names.

Concepts: Medicine, Physician, Somatoform disorders, Somatization disorder, Factitious disorder, Münchausen syndrome, Factitious disorders, Malingering


The symptom reports of individuals with chronic pain are multidimensional (e.g., emotional, cognitive, and somatic) and significantly contribute to increased morbidity and lost work productivity. When pain occurs in the context of a legally compensable event, reliable assessment of a patient’s multifactorial symptom experience during psychological or neuropsychological evaluations is a necessity. The Validity Scales of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) have been shown useful in identifying symptom overreporting and feigning within chronic pain samples and a number of studies have emerged supporting the use of the MMPI-2-Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF) in the detection of simulated or feigned impairment in a variety of populations. To date, only 1 other study exists examining the ability of the MMPI-2-RF to detect exaggerated complaints using a strict operationalization of malingering exclusive to chronic pain samples. The purpose of this study was to examine the classification accuracy of MMPI-2-RF Validity Scales in a group of patients with chronic pain using a criterion-groups design. The final sample consisted of 501 clinical chronic pain patients assigned to groups based on the Bianchini, Greve, and Glynn (2005) criteria for Malingered Pain-Related Disability (MPRD). Results showed that all MMPI-2-RF Validity Scales differentiated malingerers from nonmalingerers with a high degree of accuracy. At cut-offs associated with ≥95% Specificity, Sensitivities ranged from 15% (Fs) to 60% (Response Bias Scale; RBS). This study demonstrates that the MMPI-2-RF Validity Scales are capable of differentiating intentional symptom exaggeration from genuine complaints in a sample of incentivized chronic pain patients. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Psychometrics, Reliability, Chronic pain, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Personality test, Malingering


Patients with factitious disorders intentionally fabricate, exaggerate or feign physical and/or psychiatric symptoms for various open and covert psychological reasons. There are many issues regarding the diagnostic state and classification of factitious disorders. Both the categorical differentiation of and clinical continuum ranging from somatoform/dissociative disorders to malingering are being controversially debated. Epidemiological studies on the frequency of factitious disorder meet basic methodological difficulties. Reported rates of prevalence and incidence in the professional literature most probably have to be considered underestimations. Illness deception and self-harm as core features of the abnormal illness behaviour in factitious disorder may refer to various highly adverse and traumatic experiences during early development in a subgroup of patients. Chronic courses of illness prevail; however, there are also episodic variants.

Concepts: Psychology, Epidemiology, Illness, Mental disorder, Abnormal psychology, Factitious disorder, Malingering, Ganser syndrome


The cross-cultural validity of feigning instruments and cut-scores is a critical concern for forensic mental health clinicians. This systematic review evaluated feigning classification accuracy and effect sizes across instruments and languages by summarizing 45 published peer-reviewed articles and unpublished doctoral dissertations conducted in Europe, Asia, and North America using linguistically, ethnically, and culturally diverse samples. The most common psychiatric symptom measures used with linguistically, ethnically, and culturally diverse samples included the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomatology, the Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test, and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The most frequently studied cognitive effort measures included the Word Recognition Test, the Test of Memory Malingering, and the Rey 15-item Memory test. The classification accuracy of these measures is compared and the implications of this research literature are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Greek loanwords, Psychometrics, Linguistics, Language, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Malingering


This article describes the development of the Inventory of Problems-29 (IOP-29), a new, short, paper-and-pencil, self-administered measure of feigned mental and cognitive disorders. Four clinical comparison simulation studies were conducted. Study 1 (n = 451) selected the items and produced an index of potential feigning. Study 2 (n = 331) scaled this index to produce a probability score, and examined its psychometric properties. Study 3 tested the generalizability of Study 2’s findings with 2 additional samples (ns = 128 and 90). Results supported the utility of the IOP-29 for discriminating bona fide from feigned psychiatric and cognitive complaints. Validity was demonstrated in feigning mild traumatic brain injury, psychosis, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression. Within the independent samples of Studies 2 and 3, the brief IOP-29 performed similarly to the MMPI-2 and Personality Assessment Inventory, and perhaps better than the Test of Memory Malingering. Classifications within these samples with base rates of .5 produced sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive power, and negative predictive power statistics of about .80. Further research is needed testing the IOP-29 in ecologically valid field studies.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Traumatic brain injury, Psychometrics, Psychological trauma, Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Malingering


The present study evaluated the Response Bias scale (RBS), a symptom validity test embedded within the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)-2 Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF) that assesses for feigned neurocognitive complaints, in a sample of pretrial incompetent to stand trial (IST) criminal defendants. Additionally, we examined the Improbable Failure (IF) scale, a performance validity test embedded within the Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms, Second Edition (SIRS-2), which similarly assesses for feigned cognitive impairment (FCI). Results indicated that both the RBS (area under the curve [AUC] = .76) and IF scale (AUC = .72) achieved moderate classification accuracy using the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM) as the criterion. Further, the RBS and IF scale appeared to be most useful for screening out those defendants who presented as genuine (specificity = 99% and 88%, respectively), and less effective at classifying those defendants suspected of feigning according to the TOMM (sensitivity = 29% and 46%, respectively). In order to identify a significant proportion of IST defendants who may be feigning impairment, considerably lower cutoff scores than those recommended in each measure’s manual were evaluated. An RBS score of 63 (sensitivity = 86%; specificity = 37%), and IF scale raw score of 2 (sensitivity = 80%; specificity = 43%), was required to achieve ≥80% sensitivity; these alternate cutoff scores may therefore be useful when inpatient forensic psychiatric IST defendants. Further, the 2 scales effectively predicted TOMM classification in combination, although only the RBS significantly contributed to the model. Implications for the assessment of FCI in forensic psychiatric settings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Type I and type II errors, Symptoms, Psychometrics, Psychiatry, Binary classification, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Malingering