Munchausen Syndrome

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

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Munchausen Syndrome?

Munchausen Syndrome refers to a condition wherein a person deliberately fabricates, exaggerates, or self-induces an injury or illness for the purpose of receiving treatment afforded to medical patients. Munchausen Syndrome derived its name from Baron von Munchausen, a German soldier known for making up fantastic stories about his imaginary adventures. Richard Asher coined the term Munchausen Syndrome in 1951 in reference to people transferring from one hospital to another, faking various illnesses.1

Munchausen Syndrome is categorized as a factitious disorder, which is a group of conditions wherein an individual fakes their illnesses designed for assuming the role of a sick person. Munchausen Syndrome is a chronic type of factitious disorder involving physical manifestations, although there are records indicating a psychological type of Munchausen Syndrome.

Related to Munchausen Syndrome is Munchausen By Proxy wherein a caretaker fabricates symptoms by inflicting harm to another person, usually a child, and then shows great concern for that person by wanting to be with them in a hospital or medical facility.

As a factitious disorder, the patient suffering from Munchausen Syndrome exhibits an inner desire to be regarded as sick or injured without obtaining a concrete benefit such as a financial gain. An individual suffering from Munchausen Syndrome shows their readiness to be subjected to painful or dangerous tests and examinations just to receive sympathy and special attention fitting a sick individual. Most of the symptoms of Munchausen Syndrome are associated with physical illnesses—such as chest pain, fever, or stomach problems—rather than mental disorders.2

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