The affected person seeks unnecessary medical attention -- often including repeated surgery. Patients usually travel widely and tell false stories. They may use trickery to produce symptomatic indications of illness or conditions. Part of the attraction for medical treatment is the care and attention they receive. Another is that being ill carries other tangible gains, such as sick leave from work.
The condition was named in 1951 after the fictional 18th-century German baron, a fanaticist who wove fantastic stories around his wartime adventures.
One woman in the UK had national health medical treatment estimated at £500,000, including 42 unnecessary operations on her stomach. A man convinced 23 hospitals that he had a kidney stone by putting a pebble under his back when he went for X-rays.