Are you faking PTSD for attention? or is this a scam?

I have CPTSD (sexual and emotional abuse), and just hearing the word “fake” & “scam” was an enough to cause an actual trigger to my past, coupled with huge anxiety and intense anger.

Yesterday, while sitting in a coffee shop sipping tea and reading a book, two women around 30 – 40 years of age sitting behind me, actually had this conversation. True story. I’ll call them A & B.

A –Do you believe in all of this PTSD shit?

B –I don’t know what to think sometimes. I do know a co-worker who’s sister is going to therapy for it, I don’t know what exactly for, but she just said something that happened to her when she was young and has PTSD now.

A –Do you think it’s for real, or is she looking for attention? How old is her sister?

B –I think she’s in her 30’s, not sure. It’s something about molestation or something, I didn’t want to ask and be nosey.

A –Yeah right, like she can remember things that happened when she was a kid!

B –Well it’s her business

A –I’m just asking because I saw a show last night showing how some men in the military and some police are actually faking having this PTSD, just to collect disability. Some of them have collected $100,000.00, what a shame when people that have an actual disability need it.

And, their discussion continued……..

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape, or other violent personal assault. PTSD is a real illness that causes real suffering. (source:

Wow, is this the way scores of people perceive people with PTSD? I hope not, and all of the fakers out there get their day in court because that would be fraudulent and a scam, but for all of us who have struggled with flashbacks, horrible memories and sought therapy as the only way to recover, it’s heart-breaking.

People who have not suffered or struggled with PTSD can’t even begin to experience the “walk in my shoes” of this hellish life; where an adult still sleeps with the bedroom light on, often triggered by any sound, smell or sight that reminds them of their trauma, or has experienced betrayal from a close relationship and forever has problems with trust issues.

If only they knew that healing from such trauma involves years of talk therapy, opening up old wounds, revisiting the past with the people who abused them and whom they wouldn’t have to ‘see’ again or experiencing the actual abuse as if it was yesterday.

Abuses and trauma damage lives, sometimes leading to a life of depression, guilt and despair; destroying relationships, with others spiraling into a life of substance abuse or alcohol.

No, we are not fakes or scammers.

Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy/2017

Published by


I am a Mental Health Advocate for mental illness Stigma. In 2007, I created the "Living in Stigma" blog, with the purpose and anticipation of educating people about mental illness. Depression is part of this illness, which intertwines with those struggling with PTSD, chronic pain, and other invisible illnesses. I am a chronic migraine sufferer myself, and a sexual and emotional abuse survivor. My passions are writing, poetry, and art. All abuse Survivors are also Warriors.

39 thoughts on “Are you faking PTSD for attention? or is this a scam?”

  1. As an Army Veteran I often fear people will accuse me of faking my PTSD, sometimes I even question myself if I’m faking having PTSD. It is a fear that I do not express except a few times in therapy, although its is only in passing. Its bad enough to fear what others will say about you but to say the same thing to myself is even scarier.


    1. I agree with you and tired of the ignorant comments made about veterans struggling with PTSD. Once again we have people who have opinions, know nothing about PTSD (only the gossip), yet feel they must spew their hurtful opinions. This is a stigma, and frightening to think you have to hide a disorder or be shameful of something that is a huge struggle in your life. Truly sad. Thanks for commenting. Stay strong. 🙂


  2. I have encountered this often, not just the disbelief about PTSD but also about other mental illnesses and disabilities. I’ve heard people question why young “able-bodied” people should receive disability payments when they “should be out there working.” I know this comes from a lack of close experience, because if they knew someone with PTSD or autism or bipolar disorder who was having great difficulty managing their situation, they wouldn’t say that. Furthermore, if they were familiar with trying to live on the $800/month that young disabled people receive, they wouldn’t be shaking their heads at the way they take advantage of government benefits.

    I think it’s very important to speak up, as you do, and tell the real stories. Many people are able to be much more compassionate once they know what it’s really like. Those two women, A and B, need to read your blog and that of others here on WP. I hope they do, one day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some people judge others automatically, whether good or bad, then spew their opinions without knowing the whole backstory of a person they just hurt. Comes naturally after awhile, and that’s sad. Who would know what others’ are experiencing, and if you have an opinion, keep your damn mouth shut before sounding like an ignorant idiot. I’m wondering sometimes if some people would really be as compassionte if they knew the background of a person; I lost most of my friends when the going got tough with depression. As for the two ladies, we’ll write them off! Thanks for commenting. 🙂


  3. I told myself the same thing for years. “Real men don’t have these problems”, “stop living in the past, I need to live in today”, “I’m a successful man, and earned great recognition in the military” and other bullshit. Ignoring the “Ghosts of the Past” does not mean they do not haunt me.

    Their burden has only increased in recent years, driving crushing depressive spirals, drinking and smoking bud to just “feel nothing” instead of the darkness, the dread, the isolation. I finally admitted this depression, this PTSD thing is more powerful than my will is to “ignore it to death”! In fact, my blog is one of the tools for reaching beyond myself…

    Today I’m fighting those ghosts. This shit ain’t easy, and it ain’t for the faint of heart. Those “snowflakes” at your coffee shop were frolicing in thier ignorance. I will choose to wish them well, that they do not have to fight the demons I do, on a daily basis.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can only agree with everything you have written about PTSD. For anyone who has struggled with this disorder, and for anyone to make an ignorant judgment is vicious. For 1) The people who criticize or spew their opinions, causing hurt don’t have the capacity to learn about a topic before passing judgement on any matter. 2) Even if they did have the knowledge and formed an opinion, wouldn’t it be better to keep one’s trap shut without looking like an idiot? 3) Why intentionally hurt people, are they perhaps envious, I hope not. 4) Karma

      Thanks so much for sharing and commenting. You are a survivor and a Warrior! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi,
    I just stumbled upon your post and I’m so glad I did because I spent a week writing a post about how I found out I have PTSD. Today was the day I planned on posting it and I completely chickened out because I’m afraid of the backlash… Everyone associates PTSD with the military and most people treat it as a joke.
    These women were ignorant and you just have to be sweet and passive because you can’t be mad about someone who just doesn’t know. You had the courage to write and post about this and forgot about your vulnerability. I respect you for posting this ❤

    I will post mine soon and I hope you read it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment. I wrote it with confidence and have accepted that the abuse was not my fault nor should I ever feel guilty. People out in society love to judge and have opinions on topics they no nothing about. It’s called ignorance and creates stigma. I will be sure and read your post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry you had to experience the abuse, and when someone decides to make judgement and comments about a subject they know nothing about, I boil inside. It hurts, stings and it’s a trigger. People out there: KEEP YOUR TRAP SHUT! I appreciate your comment and will take a peek at your blog. 🙂


  5. Oh ! I love this piece, spot on. I’ve been on the front lines in Iraq as a medic back in 2004 when we were in a constant fight for a year. There is so much people don’t understand about what goes on in peoples minds once they are seriously traumatized.
    It is sickening to think that people fake it, but they do, especially some veterans. I’ve been in and out of VA hospitals for the past 13 years and I’ve heard and seen it all.
    That’s why it took me 4 years to get 100 percent disability from my PTSD and chronic pain. They put people through so many tests even some veterans who truly need it don’t get it.
    Thats why I’m trying to help by telling my story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keep telling your story so all of those idiots out there who are so ignorant and feel they have to make a comment, may catch on. It doesn’t take much time to research, but then people are so friggin lazy to find out about PTSD. Makes me so angry. Thanks for commenting. 🙂


  6. So few have truly suffered. They live their veiled lives, in a tiny bubble, never actually having enough brain power to ‘look up’ anything about mental illness. They just couldn’t care really, afterall, it hasn’t happened to them….YET!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had one sister who didn’t believe me at first and then when she did, she kept telling me to forget it and get over it. She hated my father because he was mean, but she hadn’t been sexually abused.

    Some people in my church thought I was faking or that my psychologist had suggested it to me in therapy and I just “thought” I was abused. That’s what my father told his family and the church. My cousin’s wife called me to tell me that and told me she believed me, not my father. She said she could tell he was lying. My father sent me literature on false memories.

    I wish they were false, but they aren’t. No one in this world would choose to live the way I do. Just reading the article and writing this comment has brought on my asthma and I’m coughing. I’m so afraid of people I don’t want to leave the house. Would anyone choose this?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A sad, but perfect example of why there is still such a stigma. And I wish we didn’t have to keep working so hard for people to understand. They shouldn’t have to walk in our shoes to get it. It’s a simple matter of choosing to understand another person. It seems so simple but yet it just keeps happening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, take one moment to walk in my shoes so I can show you my strength. No one but us survivors could ever understand the hellish life of PTSD, so the snide/inappropriate comments are a head-shaker to me. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree! I don’t wish that kind of hell on anyone but it seems to be what some need in order to truly understand. The same goes for invisible illnesses (mental health, chronic pain, etc.). I just don’t understand why it is so hard for some people to see a different perspective. At least there are enough of us that experience it, that we can find support and encouragement ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  9. This is just disappointing. This is ignorant and cold. I’m gonna make the assumption she’s never experienced something traumatic that really changes your life forever. Disrespecting military members who have witnessed horrific atrocities, who were constantly on their toes and aware that at any moment they could be dead. They were in survival mode, and the after math of all of these traumatic experiences, those from the military and those who suffer from a different traumatic experience, are stuck in a place they desperately don’t want to be. No way is it for attention. Pain, PTSD is real. And I can guarantee that if you asked anyone who experiences it, they will say they don’t want to be that way. No one would choose this pain. respect their struggle. And most importantly, do not pass judgment on things, people, life events that you don’t understand and that you’ve never experienced. You can’t dismiss someone’s experience just because you didn’t go through it yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. People who don’t understand something and judge, are lazy and would never take the time to research before making hurtful statements, and that’s why we have stigma. I shake my head when people assume someone is this or that when 1) they don’t even know the person 2) don’t know what he’s gone through to make a judgment 3) never suffered the horrid effects of PTSD and 4) are they so knowledgeable to make this judgement 5) do they consider themselves idiots? Going by a social media story and commenting is ludicrous!

      Thanks for commenting, I totally agree with you. 🙂


  10. Wow! This makes me really sad to hear that people may think that someone is faking PTSD. Hard to hear as I am someone who works hard to destigmatize living with PTSD. My hope is someday they will become educated about this devastating illness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If only other people knew what PTSD is all about, and how they can ‘count their lucky stars’ that they sailed through life not carrying around abuses from childhood that require years of therapy to heal in adulthood. People, educate yourself before making hurtful statements, so in other words, keep your opinions to yourself and your mouth shut! It makes me sad also. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I probably would have gave them an evil look, before walking off. I know I would have been upset and biting my lips, if I had heard this type of chat going on behind me. It certainly would have been a trigger for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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