Malingered Mental Health: Legal Review and Clinical Challenges in English and Welsh Law


  • Peter Beazley University of East Anglia, Norwich
  • Charlotte Emmett Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne



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.

Author Biographies

Peter Beazley, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Peter Beazley, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Therapies, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich

Charlotte Emmett, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne

Charlotte Emmett, Associate Professor of Law, Northumbria Law School, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne.






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