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October 1956

Malingering: "Diagnosis" or Social Condemnation?Analysis of the Meaning of "Diagnosis" in the Light of Some Interrelations of Social Structure, Value Judgment, and the Physician's Role

Author Affiliations

Syracuse, N. Y.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1956;76(4):432-443. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1956.02330280090009
Abstract

According to Webster, malingering is the "feigning of illness or inability in order to avoid doing one's duty." It is consistent with this definition that in our actual daily life malingering is rarely an issue, except in the social framework of the military service. In civilian life, nowadays, the question of malingering is sometimes raised in cases involving litigations with insurance companies over alleged damages to the patient's health and in connection with criminal offenders who may plead "insanity." Accordingly, this (alleged) syndrome is discussed usually as a part of military psychiatry.* The concept of "malingering," however, has theoretical implications and significance which far transcend this framework.

Clarification of the problem of malingering is of interest for the following reasons: First, we touch here on a subject which has a clear and immediate relevance to the wide area of medicolegal matters. The relationship between psychiatry and law is currently a

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