Going back from office that afternoon, I didn’t head home, I went to teach in the Campus. It was raining. Down with cold, I drove fast to reach the Campus on time. Although my wife tried to stop me from teaching that day, but because of my responsibilites to the students, I insisted myself to go.
A message suddenly came in my inbox. “Mr. Xavier, sorry, I couldn’t attend the class today because I don’t feel well.” That’s what the sms from one of my female student read. In rainy days like this, it’s common that people may suddenly feel sick. I replied: “Ok. Take a rest. Just reminding, there’s an exam today. No make-up exam.”
At the entrance gate, I saw that female students was there, she even waved to me. Not a sign of sickness. “I thought you were sick. No?” asked me with a smile. “Once knowing there’s an exam, I feel better already, Sir.” I giggled inside. What she did is a form of malingering. Simplified meaning of ‘malingering’ is pretending to be sick. While motives may be vary, yet here is the bottom line. People usually do malingering when they feel they are under pressure. For instance, slacking of doing certain task thus pretending to be sick in the hope to escape from the task. Moreover some play the sick role when they are about to be put in jail. This way they might be freed from the punishment.
I know someone who admitted to be sick at work but all of sudden was fit when the colleagues were planning out for an uptown trip.
Malingering could be coming from his or her own initiative.
Over frightened of the punishment awaits, sickness is then made up in order to escape. If liar can be confronted with lie detector, can malingering be crossed check with other means of doctor medical prosecution? Of course, but there are 2 things need to be put into consideration out of doing so.
First, the followed up screening by other medical examiner indicates that the initial doctor who certified the sick permit did not do the job well.
Citizens might accuse the possibility of conspiracy practice between the malingeringer and his or her attorney.
Second, malingerer will fake sickness and make up symptoms like coughing and even lie to experience headache, leaving the fact that the headache might actually be real caused by the actual problem faced.
Cheeky students have their way to camouflage body heat during doctor’s examination and duplicate fever symptom. This means the doer does not only fool the law, but also fooling the doctor in charge. Was the examination not conducted thoroughly? Did they fail to do any laboratory test? Such questions will emerge consequently.
Even public have the right to be suspicious of any malingering practice once they see these signs.
Firstly, the suspect who previously was healthy suddenly turning sick just right before the health examination. While falling sick is indeed inevitable, but could become suspicious when it took place just before conducting the health examination.
Secondly, the absence of transparency in the examination’s result. It is the right of every patient to have privacy over their own health information that should not be disclosed for public consumption. However, the Court has the power to rule over and disclose the information, right?
When this investigation process is not being carried out, the law in Indonesia becomes unjust.
In this free information age, jurists and doctors could find ways to find out whether or not someone is commiting malingering. For example, an article titled “Faking it: How to detect malingered psychosis” that was published by Current Psychiatry shows how. Only their members have access to this site service.
Malingering practice doesn’t only hurt the law enforcement but it also has a damaging economy impact. According to Texas Department of Insurance, as written by Wikipedia, malingering practice cause insurance companies in USA to suffer loss approximately $150 billion every year. I couldn’t find the figure for malingering in Indonesian insurance world. From words of mouth I heard once though that there was one man who has been diagnosed with cancer and was about to sign up for an insurance policy, just because the lab test is not yet ready, he used the old health screen result and claimed to be healthy. Ironic, isn’t it? The healthy claims of being sick. And the sick claims of being healthy.
What is the danger of malingering? In my opinion, the negative impact of this practice is like a double-edged sword. In one hand, juridiciary institute wise, for instance, is very much being unbenefited because the suspect cannot be immediately examined. Delay is a waste of money.
In another hand, malingeringer wise, slowly but sure will be harmed by him/or herself. Malingeringers are not only fooling others, but also their own conscience. Don’t be surprised of those who fake their sickness can actually become sick in the reality. Why? Because that is how they condition themselves to be. They face sleeping deprivation because their conscience keep wakens them up. I tweeted in a social media: “The best pillow in the world is a clear conscience.” Not only that, people who lie to themselves sooner or later will suffer. Even someone who is about to be nominated as ‘The Next Habibie’ admits that his academic achievement was a scam.
I remember a story about a mother who took her son to their hometown by train. This child is known to be very critical and likes to question anything that amuses him. When there was one gentleman who rode the same train and sit in front of them, this mother started to get anxious. Why? Because of that gentleman’s squinted eyes. “Son, please don’t do much talking on this trip. Mom wants to have some rest,” advised her, though she wasn’t sleepy. She was afraid that her son would ask about that gentleman’s eyes.
Her son nodded, but he couldn’t take his eyes off that gentleman. Not long after, what has been worrying her did happen . He asked, “Sir. I have friend at school who is good at playing eyes and make it squint, but my friend is not as good as you.” Fakeness does not last long. Theatre show will come to an end. Once the curtain is down and the audiences left, the players are back to their real life. How long can malingeringer act? Who knows? I prefer listening to Queen’s The Great Pretender:
Oh yes I’m the great pretender
Just laughing and gay like a clown
I seem to be what I’m not you see
I’m wearing my heart like a crown
Pretending that you’re
Pretending that you’re still around
How is clown that always known to be funny and cute, now can turn into someone scary like the one in the movie “It”?
Just like Ahmad Albar hums in his song “Panggung Sandiwara” (theater, imaginery world), it all depends on who plays the role. It can be the funny clown who entertains kids at birthday party. Or it can also be Pennywise the sadist clown played savagely by Bill Istvan Günther Skarsgård!
- Xavier Quentin Pranata, lecturer, writer, and public speaker.