Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Ganser Syndrome

Ganser syndrome is a type of factitious disorder, a mental illness in which a person deliberately and consciously acts as if he or she has a physical or mental illness when he or she is not really sick. People with Ganser syndrome mimic behavior that is typical of a mental illness, such as schizophrenia. Ganser syndrome is sometimes called "prison psychosis" because it was first observed in prisoners.

People with factitious disorders act this way because of an inner need to be seen as ill or injured -- not to achieve a clear benefit, such as financial gain. They are even willing to undergo painful or risky tests and operations in order to obtain the sympathy and special attention given to people who are truly ill. Factitious disorders are technically considered mental illnesses because they are associated with severe emotional difficulties.

Recommended Related to Mental Health

What Triggers PTSD?

Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after living through a shocking or dangerous experience. When you're in danger, your body's natural response is to feel scared. That's when your body turns on its "fight or flight" response. In the face of something life-threatening, it revs up your heart rate, sends blood to your muscles to get ready to run, and amps up stress hormones to help fight off bleeding and infection in case you get hurt. Your brain tells your body that some of...

Read the What Triggers PTSD? article > >

What Are the Symptoms of Ganser Syndrome?

People with Ganser syndrome have short-term episodes of odd behavior similar to that shown by people with serious mental illnesses. The person may appear confused, make absurd statements, and report hallucinations such as the experience of sensing things that are not there or hearing voices. A classic symptom of Ganser syndrome is vorbeireden. This is when the person gives nonsense answers to simple questions. In addition, a person with this condition may report physical problems such as an inability to move part of the body, called "hysterical paralysis." Loss of memory (amnesia) of the events that occurred during an episode is common.

What Causes Ganser Syndrome?

Little is known about this unusual disorder, but it is believed to be a reaction to extreme stress. Another factor that may contribute to Ganser syndrome is a desire to avoid responsibility or an unpleasant situation. There are also physical problems that may cause the symptoms of Ganser syndrome. These include alcoholism, head injury, and stroke.

Most people with this disorder also have a personality disorder, usually antisocial personality disorder or histrionic personality disorder. Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by irresponsible and aggressive behavior that often involves a disregard for others and an inability to abide by society's rules. People with antisocial personality disorder are sometimes referred to as "sociopaths" or "psychopaths." For people with histrionic personality disorder, their self-esteem depends on the approval of others and does not arise from a true feeling of self-worth. They have an overwhelming desire to be noticed, and often behave dramatically or inappropriately to get attention.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections