A mathematical model using simple concepts of repeated games is proposed to model the course and prognosis of factitious disorders. Although simple, the model seems capable of explaining the yet unknown mechanisms underlying the variable course of factitious disorders. One of the notable results of this study is the significant effect of involved physicians in the treatment process on the course of the disease. Particularly, the doctor's error rate in realizing whether the symptoms are real or factitious can considerably affect the course of the disease. This is the first paper to apply a mathematical model to factitious disorders. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.