“Munchausen syndrome by proxy(MSbP) Referred to in the DSM-IV-TR as Factitious Disorder by Proxy, is a disorder in which a person deliberately cause injury or illness to another person (most often his or her child), usually to gain attention or some benefit.”
An MSP (Munchausen Syndrome by proxy) individual has an utmost need for their child to be sick, because that individual thrives on the attention received from the care and love provided for the sick child. MSP parents are okay with torturing their child by forcing the child to receive tests, pain, and unnecessary treatment just for the empathy acquired from others. In most documented MSP cases the perpetrator is the mother, although occasionally there have been MSP men.
Because they crave the attention of general practitioners and other professionals, mothers often make up illnesses and symptoms the children are experiencing. They might alter their child’s test to ensure it will be positive, or they might intentionally infect their child with something to make them sick. Most commonly, the mother feeds her child a form of laxative.
MSP individuals are generally very accomplished liars. They are more than willing to change medical records, as well as harming the child to produce symptoms, like poisoning or infecting them. The following symptoms might indicate a child is a victim of an MSP parent:
Multiple hospital visits.
Symptoms that only the MSP person observes but no one else sees.
A previously seen child with the same issues or unexplained death.
A child who recovers while under doctor’s care, but who becomes sick again after returning home.
The signs and symptoms of a MSP individual are difficult to recognize as the professionals must first establish that nothing else could be causing the child’s illness. MSP can often be over-used when the doctors cannot determine what is wrong with the child and assume it must be MSP.
I watched a 20/20 investigation show on We TV which highlighted several women wrongly accused of MSP. In one particular case, the child was very sick and several doctors could not agree on the child’s diagnosis. The mother was extremely overbearing, attempting several times to take over the nurses’ duties. Yet, once the child was removed from the mother’s care, the child did not recover, but, in fact, worsened and eventually died.
Understand how they might view the mother as an MSP, as she did have several indicators for the disorder. Yet, no solution could be found for the child’s illness, like poisoning or another substance.
The hospital handling of this situation was totally incorrect. Not only did they wrongly accuse the mother, they refused to allow the mother or family to visit with the child. The patient ultimately died alone and in pain. After the child’s death the hospital did not file charges against the mother, nor did they clear her name. Not only did they fail the family, they failed the child.
Munchausen Syndrome by proxy is a very serious disorder. As a medical professional one should always be aware of the indicators, while not using them due to failure to diagnose the child or an overbearing mother. Who will fight for the child if not the parents?