Munchausen By Proxy: 4 Things Everyone Should Know
The First time most of us have heard the term Munchausen by proxy, and least in my case, was because of the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case and most recent if in Tate Taylor’s Ma. However, how many of us really know about this specific syndrome. I am a double major, and I have a joint humanities degree in English and Psychology; and I learnt more about these syndromes when I was in college. So, without further ado, let’s learn more about Munchausen by proxy and things everyone should know about this specific syndrome.
What is Munchausen syndrome?
The term Munchausen by proxy was first coined in 1977 by Roy Meadow, is English pediatrician. He derived this term from the already existing Munchausen syndrome, and it has its namesake from an 18th-century German cavalry officer, Baron Freiherr Von Munchausen, who was known for his exaggerations.
It is a form of mental illness that is also known as factitious disorder, and it is a mental disturbance that includes patients who intentionally act mentally or physically ill for empathy or to seek attention, but these usually don’t have any obvious financial gains. If the individuals fake their illness for financial gains then, it is known as malingering.
Munchausen by proxy, as its name suggests, has symptoms of diseases that are fabricated by someone who is usually close to their patients, which is usually their legal guardian (as was the case of the Gypsy Rose case). This usually leads to painful or often unnecessary treatments and interventions.
30 to 70% of those who falsify illness in their children also falsify illnesses when it comes to themselves. The most common cause of Munchausen by proxy usually involves a legal guardian, who consciously creates and causes symptoms in their child and repeatedly takes them to a medical professional.
Someone who suffers from Munchausen by proxy might have a long history of unexplained illness that is usually backed up by their legal guardians. Those who suffer from it are also willing to have their own children experience the risks and discomfort which are associated with medical procedures.
This usually includes surgery, and they are familiar with supposed illnesses and the procedures that are usually associated with it. These parents will also have a weirdly vast knowledge of medical conditions but will at the same time downplay this and give vague details about their child’s illness.
The parents of children who suffer from Munchausen by proxy are also prone to lying exaggeration about their lives. They may even be antagonistic and hostile to medical professionals or other people who challenge them.
How common is Munchausen by proxy?
Many perpetrators of this usually have features of borderline personality disorder, and they often have a troubled family history. These perpetrators have a generally difficult childhood and might come from abusive households.
Because most of us know about the Munchausen by proxy because of the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case but in reality, this syndrome is exceptionally rare. It is so rare that it is difficult to get a reliable number of this syndrome of this in the United States.
In other countries like the United Kingdom and Australia, studies have shown that a very small percentage of children diagnosed with severe illness cases are cases of Munchausen by proxy. So even if one case was extremely mainstreamed, it doesn’t mean that it is a common syndrome.
Is there a cure for this?
It is sad to say that those who suffer from Munchausen by proxy are usually resistant to treatment. Some mental health professionals like psychiatrists first want to establish what is known as a contract conference, where they encourage the parents to express themselves and their pain.
The goal of the contract conference is to not channel these negative emotions in a way that is harmful to their children. Once the psychiatrist has an opening with the parents, it allows the mental health professional to help these people work through their issues.
Medication has also not been proven to be helpful in this treatment, although some people are usually prescribed for symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Sound off in the comments section below and tell us if you want to read more about Munchausen by proxy. Most of us know about this syndrome because of the Gypsy Rose Blanchard, and there are a lot of documents out there that you can watch on the matter.