Malingered mental health: Legal review and clinical challenges in English and Welsh law

Peter Beazley, Charlotte Emmett

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Abstract

Malingering – the feigning of mental or physical health symptoms for external
gain – is a significant problem for clinicians, the courts, and society. For
clinicians working in mental health settings, it is a complex task to differentiate
malingered presentations from genuine ones, with a range of potential legal and
ethical questions facing the clinician who conducts this task. Yet, the
malingering of mental health problems has a range of potential impacts. For the
courts, malingering presents a significant threat to their basic function by acting
as a significant impediment to truth. For society, malingering wastes clinical
time, leaves the potential for injustice to occur in response to criminal acts, and
has a significant financial burden in unwarranted civil payments. The focus of
the present review is therefore to review the issue of malingering from a legal
perspective, leading to a consideration of recommendations for a clinician faced
with assessing a client suspected of malingering behaviour
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Capacity Law
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2022

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