In this dissertation, the author provides an account of his therapeutic interaction and experience, as an intern clinical psychologist, in working with a patient in psychotherapy who was eventually diagnosed with a “factitious disorder”. This study descriptively addresses how the therapeutic interaction impacted upon the therapist’s thinking of the process both diagnostically and in terms of therapeutic goals. This study consists of a single case, qualitative research design. It concerns the interactions and experiences of the therapist with a specific patient (diagnosed with a factitious disorder) in the context of a multidisciplinary academic hospital setting. The study aims to be predominantly descriptive of this therapy, and as such employs the psychological phenomenological method of Giorgi (1985) in order to provide a specific description of the situated structure of the therapy. As such, this study is able to contribute to the sparse psychological and therapeutic information available on factitious disorders. There are few detailed accounts of actual therapeutic interactions – specifically from a psychological perspective – for patients diagnosed with factitious disorders. The specific description of the situated structure of the therapy is also compared to the available literature on factitious disorders. Although the aim of this study was not evaluative in nature, the author does provide some tentative comments on the aetiology and therapeutic considerations for factitious disorders – with regards to this particular case. The author suggests a strong link to personality and character deficits underlying factitious behaviour. The author further suggests the importance of acknowledging the “sick role”; allowing for “face-saving” strategies; providing consistency (on behalf of the therapist); and the setting of rigid, overt, therapeutic boundaries in the psychotherapeutic treatment of factitious disorders.
Dissertation (MA (Clinical Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2005.