October 26, 2021

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Word + Quiz: factitious

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: not produced by natural forces; artificial or fake

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The word factitious has appeared in one article on NYTimes.com in the past year, on August 4 in “The Anonymous Professor Who Wasn’t” by Jonah Engel Bromwich and Ezra Marcus:

Dr. Marc Feldman is a psychiatrist who studies factitious disorders in which a person acts as if they, or a loved one, have a disease. He specializes in what he calls Munchausen by internet, in which such deceptions take place online, and said he hears about a new case every couple of weeks.

“I think it happens online more than offline these days because it’s so easy to mislead people via social media,” Dr. Feldman said. He added that Covid-19 had been a boon for those with such disorders. “Nobody wants to be near a Covid-19 sufferer so they say, ‘We can’t meet,’” he said. “There’s no way to arrange a face-to-face meeting.”

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