Skip to content
Surprising Science

How Faking Insanity is Discovered By Forensic Psychologists

Since the creation of the insanity defense, experts have been debating whether or not a criminal can get away with faking insanity.

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell

What’s the Latest Development?

People who plead insanity after committing a hideous crime are often times sane people who feign insanity, in order to escape the death penalty. Experts say there are tests set up to trip up “malingerers.” “Most techniques relied on the investigators’ experience and powers of observation—looking for inconsistencies in symptoms, waiting until the suspect tired of the game, or simply catching a telltale look in his eye.” Now, modern psychological exams “determine whether the symptoms match those of well-studied pathologies and whether the signs remain consistent over time. They also can apply a battery of tests that essentially fake-out the faker.” Reportedly, most fakers will mimic “Hollywood” insanity and exaggerate their symptoms “and ignore common, subtle signs such as the blunting of a mentally ill patient’s emotions.” 

What’s the Big Idea?

There are many tests experts use to determine whether or not a person’s crime was driven by insanity. Test techniques are set up to trip up people who fake insanity in order to escape harsher penalties for their crime. “The only way to fail is if you do so on purpose.” However, it is harder to prove that your sane than insane. Once a person serves their time in a mental facility, many times they will be kept longer because doctors are convinced a patient is faking sanity in order to get released. 


Up Next