Forensic assessment of somatoform and functional neurological disorders

Functional neurological disorders (FND) and somatization are common in clinical practice and medicolegal settings. These conditions are frequently disabling and, if arising following an accident, may lead to claims for legal compensation or occupational disability (such as social security disability insurance). However, distinguishing FND and somatization from symptoms that are intentionally produced (i.e., malingered or factitious) may pose a major forensic psychiatric challenge. In this article, we describe how somatoform disorders and FND lie along a spectrum of abnormal illness‐related behaviors, including factitious disorder, compensation neurosis, and malingering. We provide a systematic approach to the forensic assessment of FND and conclude by describing common litigation scenarios in which FND may be at issue. Forensic testimony may play an important role in the resolution of such cases.