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Munchausen Syndrome Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Factitious Disorder Diagnosis, Munchausens Diagnosis, Malingering Diagnosis, Munchausen By Proxy Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How Is Munchausen Syndrome Diagnosed?

Determining an appropriate diagnosis of Munchausen Syndrome can be challenging for a doctor because of the fake symptoms and illnesses involved. It is the job of the doctor to rule out physical and mental illnesses and often utilize several diagnostic tests and procedures before diagnosing Munchausen syndrome.

When physical symptoms have been ruled out, the doctor will then refer the patient to a psychiatrist or psychologist who is an expert in the treatment of mental disorders. They will conduct a comprehensive medical history and use physical and laboratory imagery and psychological evaluation in order to make an assessment of the individual suffering from Munchausen syndrome. The doctor will make their diagnosis when physical and mental illness has been ruled out, as well as based on their observation of the attitude and behavior of the patient.

In addition, diagnosing the patient for Munchausen syndrome shall also be based on the following criteria:

  • The alleged symptoms should make sense in the context of all test results and assessments made by the doctor
  • There should be collateral information that verifies the information given by the patient
  • The patient shows readiness to take risks for more procedures and tests than what is normally expected
  • The treatments are very predictable

The doctor will then determine if the symptoms being presented by the patient meets the criteria set forth by DSM-IV for Munchausen syndrome. As a factitious disorder, it should meet the following criteria:

  1. The patient deliberately falsifies physical or psychological symptoms
  2. The primary aim for such behavior is to take the role of a sick person
  3. External gains for the behavior are absent

Munchausen syndrome has its own attributes that determines its diagnosis. First, the behavior of the patient is chronic and severe. The signs and symptoms are self-induced using medically risky procedures such as self-inflicted infection or superwarfarin ingestion, which guarantees hospitalization 5.

Another unique characteristic of Munchausen syndrome is peregrination. The individual suffering from this condition transfers from one hospital to another, travels to several towns, and even other countries to find a new audience once their deception is discovered.

Moreover, the patient makes up claims about their accomplishments, educational background, and connection to popular persons, among others.

Could You Have Munchausen Syndrome?

Munchausen Syndrome 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 By Proxy - An Individual Fabricates Or Exaggerates an Illness of Another Individual, Usually a Child, In Order to Draw Attention Or Sympathy from Others