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May 25, 1994


Author Affiliations

University of Alabama at Birmingham

JAMA. 1994;271(20):1574. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510440034019

To the Editor.  —Individuals with factitious disorders feign or intentionally self-induce illness because of a psychological need to assume the sick role.1 These individuals often display dramatic medical conditions, such as gross bleeding or incapacitating pain, that will force doctors and others to attend to them immediately.2 We describe a teenager whose factitious seizure while on an airliner not only mobilized immediate attention, but actually led to the plane's being diverted, a phenomenon we dub "liejacking."

Report of a Case.  —A 14-year-old boy had a 1-year history of ostensive asthma leading to continual testing and medication adjustment, but with little success. Emergency department visits had been extremely frequent, and he had received more than 100 epinephrine injections because of acute respiratory distress. On occasion, he also displayed seizures, and his medical conditions had led to his being placed in a home-schooling program. While flying from his home to