Cry for help as a root cause of poor symptom validity: A critical note

Brechje Dandachi-FitzGerald*, Harald Merckelbach, Thomas Merten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


When patients fail symptom validity tests (SVTs) and/or performance validity tests (PVTs), their self-reported symptoms and test profiles are unreliable and cannot be taken for granted. There are many well-established causes of poor symptom validity and malingering is only of them. Some authors have proposed that a cry for help may underlie poor symptom validity. In this commentary, we argue that cry for help is a (1) metaphorical concept that is (2) difficult to operationalize and, at present, (3) impossible to falsify. We conclude that clinicians or forensic experts should not invoke cry for help as an explanation for poor symptom validity. To encourage conceptual clarity, we propose a tentative framework for explaining poor symptom validity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Neuropsychology-Adult
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Feb 2022


  • Cry for help
  • MMPI-2
  • illness perception
  • malingering
  • performance validity
  • symptom validity


Dive into the research topics of 'Cry for help as a root cause of poor symptom validity: A critical note'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this