1st Edition

Art of Illness Malingering and Inventing Health Conditions

Edited By Wendy J. Turner Copyright 2024

    There is a long history of inventing illness, such as pretending to be sick for attention or accusing others of being ill. This volume explores the art of illness, and the deceptions and truths around health and bodies, from a multiplicity of angles from antiquity to the present.

    The chapters, which are based on primary-source evidence ranging from antiquity to the late twentieth century, are divided into three sections. The first part explores how the idea of faking illness was understood and conceptualized across multiple fields, locations, and time periods. The second part uses case studies to emphasize the human element of those at the center of these narratives and how their behavior was shaped by societal attitudes. The third part investigates the development of regulations and laws governing malingering and malingerers. Altogether, they paint a picture of humans doing human actions—cheating, lying, stealing, but also hiding, surviving, working.

    This book’s careful, accessible scholarship is a valuable resource for academics, scientists, and the sophisticated undergraduate audience interested in malingering narratives throughout history.


    Walton O. Schalick, III

    Introduction: The Bioethics of Malingering, Misrepresentation of Health, and Forensics of Illness

    Wendy J. Turner

    Part 1: Conceptualizing Malingering

    1. Malingering in Ancient Greece and Rome

    Lisa LeBlanc

    2. Form, Fraud, and Performance in Middle English Medical Satire

    Chelsea Silva

    3. Pathologising Ecstatic Dance: Reflections on Medieval Dansomania and the Love Parade in Berlin, 1996

    Irina Metzler

    4. Philosophical Paradoxes of Factitious Disorders

    Herb Leventer

    Part 2: Historic Cases of Malingering

    5. ‘Because she pretended to be pregnant and was not’: Fake Royal Pregnancies in Medieval Scotland

    Emma Trivett

    6. Feigning Madness: The Case of William Hawkyns, 1552 London

    Wendy J. Turner

    7. "A decietfull gypsay [sic]": Malingering, Performance and Princess Sophia’s "Fitts"

    Carolyn A. Day

    Part 3: Regulations and Laws Against Malingering

    8. Faking It: Thirteenth Century Bolognese Responses to Feigning Leprosy

    Courtney A. Krolikoski

    9. Expertis medicis videatur: Legal Medical Expertise in the Apostolic Chancery’s Assessment of Personal Injury Damages During the Avignon Period (1309–1378)

    Ninon Dubourg

    10. Compensatory Damages and the Construction of Disability in Prenatal Torts

    Luke I. Haqq


    Eliza Buhrer


    Wendy J. Turner is Professor of History in the Department of History, Anthropology, and Philosophy at Augusta University, where she also holds affiliate professorships in the Center for Bioethics and Health Policy in the Institute for Public and Preventative Health and The Graduate School.