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Munchausen by Proxy

(Also Known As: Factitious Disorder, Malingering, Munchausen)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Munchausen by Proxy?

Munchausen by proxy syndrome is a rare condition wherein a principal caretaker fabricates or exaggerates symptoms or illness. Named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th-century German dignitary, Munchausen by proxy is one of the most harmful forms of child abuse 1.

MBPS is usually associated with the mother who intentionally makes their child sick or convinces other people that their child is sick. In Munchausen by proxy, the parent or primary caregiver makes misleading claims that their child has a medical condition by lying or claiming fictitious episodes. The caregiver or parent gets to the point of exaggerating, falsifying, or inducing symptoms.

According to the DSM-IV, factitious disorders can be categorized into four principal types: those with mainly psychological symptoms, those with mainly physical symptoms, those with both physical and psychological symptoms, and those that do not have similar conditions with the other three types. Munchausen by proxy belongs to the fourth kind 2.

Although it can be committed by fathers, Munchausen by proxy is most commonly seen with mothers. The purpose of deliberately harming or making up non-existent symptoms or illness in their child is to receive attention given to the family of a sick individual. A person suffering from Munchausen by proxy uses the many hospitalizations in order to be praised by others for her devotion to the care of the child.

Because of the care and attention they give to the child, the parent or the caregiver would not be suspected of doing something wrong. What is odd about Munchausen by proxy is the exceptional ability of the parent or caregiver to deceive the medical practitioner. Most of the time, they are knowledgeable with medicine. It is not unusual for a doctor to overlook the symptoms of Munchausen by proxy because they believe that any parent or caregiver would not go to the point of intentionally harming their child.

Could You Have Munchausen By Proxy?

Munchausen By Proxy Topics

Related Conditions

Factitious Disorder – deliberate feigning of symptoms, exaggeration of medical condition
Malingering – faking of symptoms with obvious incentive benefits, exaggeration of medical condition, lying, deception
Munchausen Syndrome – chronic factitious disorder, feigning of symptoms, self induced injury to produce symptoms