Malingering in penitentiary institutes

La simulazione della malattia mentale nelle istituzioni penitenziarie

A.M.A. Nivoli, L.F. Nivoli, M.N. Sanna, S. Casula, L. Lorettu, G.C. Nivoli

Dipartimento di Neuroscienze e Scienze Materno Infantili, Università di Sassari


The purpose of the present study is to improve therapists’ skills to manage the psychiatric interview with malingering patients in penitentiary environment.


The present study, a clinical-case series report, is a personal contribution of the authors based on their clinical experience about malingering in different penitentiary institutes in Italy. We described eighteen examples of different dynamics of malingering mental illness in the penitentiary environment.


In particular, we described the following typologies of malingering: 1) imitate, 2) worsen; 3) inflate; 4) invent; 5) mend; 6) temporize; 7) escape; 8) horrify; 9) move to pity; 10) intrigue; 11) disturb; 12) blackmail; 13) forecast; 14) remember; 15) take into partnership; 16) focus on; 17) proclaim; 18) dramatize.


The description of the typologies of simulation in penitentiary environments allows the therapist: 1) to avoid the involuntary suggestions of symptoms that can be useful to malingerer psychopathology 2) to avoid being involved in manipulatory relations with malingering patients 3) to make a better clinical assessment for the recognition and treatment of malingering in penitentiary environment.

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