Describe conversion reactions and real physical disorders

I’m working on a Psychology question and need guidance to help me study.

For this week’s Discussion, respond to the following: Describe how conversion reactions, real physical disorders, and outright malingering can be differentiated.


Remember that all posts are graded for substance and thoughtful consideration of the discussion topic. Your post must also end with a “Question to the Class” – something related to the topic that you found thought-provoking and about which you’d like to know more and have further dialog.

APA format

Maddux, J. E., & Winstead, B. A. (Eds.). (2015). Psychopathology : Foundations for a contemporary understanding. ProQuest Ebook Central


Interesting topic. Working with drug addicts, I can see both of these disorders. I see a lot of patients who pretend they have this or that just to try and get more drugs. I do feel like there are patients who have abnormalities that are not diagnosed. This class has really had me watching my patients closely! I learn so much from them from the things we are learning in this class.

Conversion reaction is a disorder when an individual is showing signs of a neurological abnormality, but by doing a medical exam, cannot be determined. These abnormalities can consist of issues seeing, seizers, etc. There is not an explanation on why these are happening. They just happen. This can cause distress on individuals because they don’t know what is wrong. The individuals who have conversion reaction don’t actually think that they have it and that the abnormalities that they are feeling is all just simply in their head. Malingering disorder is when an individual pretends to have a physical or psychological abnormality. This includes pretending or acting as though they have an issue, when they in reality, do not. The individual is out seeking for attention, gifts, getting out of things, etc.

Ever watch that show on Hulu based off of a true story about the girl in the wheelchair her mom made her be in her whole life, but she didn’t actually need a wheelchair? She didn’t actually have all of these issues her mom said she had. And it was all a ploy to get more and more free things? The community even built them a house! Then the girl ended up killing her mom with the help of the girls boyfriend.

My question for the class is… which disorder do you think if more common, conversion reaction or malingering? How did you come to your answer?


-Meghan Pierson


The first disorder, conversion disorder, is described as a person who is showing neurological symptoms, but which medical examination fails to diagnose. These symptoms can often be characterized by seizures, blindness, paralysis even though the disorder itself is not truly physical, as it is a mental disorder. Patients who have a conversion disorder are unaware that the symptoms are not real physical symptoms and that it is all in their head, therefore they believe that they are physically ill. The textbook explains that sometimes the symptoms of conversion disorder can be inconsistent with the usual neurological criteria.

The next type of disorder, malingering, is very similar to a conversion disorder as the symptoms can be the same but, in this case, they are faking it and have control over the symptoms they exhibit. These people fake both neurological and physical symptoms so that they may gain something from the situation. There are many different reasons why people may fake these symptoms, but a few could be time off work, disability insurance, housing or even just the medication given to them for those symptoms. This can be very dangerous for professionals when diagnosing a patient as they can be taken advantage of by said patient, although thankfully professionals know what to look for in order to avoid such a situation. One such way to differentiate a person who is using this method for their personal gain is to see how they react when given negative results. If the results are negative, the individual will not be pleased to hear the news, as that means they have failed to trick the system.


Finally, both malingering and conversion disorders are not real physical disorders as one is outright faked and the other is purely neurological. – Riley


Hello Class and Professor,

This week we were told to describe how conversion reactions, real physical disorders, and outright malingering can be differentiated. The common denominator between malingering and conversion reactions is that a malingerer forge symptoms or exaggerate it for personal gain while a patient reporting his/hers conversion reactions is in fact experiencing sudden blindness, paralysis and other symptoms. While conversion disorder is recognized by the DSM-5 as a mental illness, malingering is not. Malingering and conversion disorder both are not a real physical disorders. On a real physical disorder, very likely there will be a biological explanation for the patient’s symptoms and complaints. The main difference between conversion disorder and malingering is that the neurological symptoms of the conversion disorder develop unconsciously and it happens unintentionally. Conversion reactions may originate or get exacerbated because of an emotional distress or a psychological struggle. An individual with conversion disorder is not faking or intentionally creating his/her complaints in order to obtain a secondary gain. Furthermore, a person with conversion disorder may experience the following conversion reactions: seizures, weakness, non-responsiveness, numbness, and even vision loss. However, there still no biological justification on how/where the symptoms originate.

Malingering is a huge topic in the Air Force. It is a violation that is very difficult to prove. Article 115 of the Uniform Code Military Justice (UCMJ) states that malingering is when a member with the intent to avoid work, duty, or service do the following: pretends sickness, physical disablement, mental lapse, or mental derangement; or intentionally inflicts self-injury. It is common to find young members that have been accused of malingering. I can say I have not personally witnessed any type of non-judicial punishment or worse being handed down to that member.

Question to the class for this week is: How long does it take for a patient to be treated and feel cured from a conversion disorder?

Please stay safe out there.



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