Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

What is Munchausen syndrome by proxy?

Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSP) is a mental illness. It is also a form of child abuse. It affects caregivers, especially caregivers of children. It is also known as factitious disorder by proxy. Mothers of small children are most often affected by this condition. Fathers or other caregivers can have it as well.

Someone suffering from MSP will act as though the person under his or her care is sick. They often will falsify medical information. They may lie to medical professionals about the health or condition of the person in their care. They do this to gain sympathy or for attention.

Someone who has MSP may purposely take action to make their child sick. They knowingly will expose the child to painful or risky medical procedures, even surgeries. They may deliberately create symptoms in a child. They can do this by withholding food, poisoning or suffocating the child, giving the child inappropriate medicines, or withholding prescribed medicines. Creating these situations can put the child at extreme risk.

Common illnesses or symptoms that caregivers take MSP victims to the doctor for include:

  • Failure to thrive
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Breathing difficulty and asthma
  • Infections
  • Allergic reactions
  • Fevers of unknown origins
  • Other illnesses that require immediate emergency care

Those with MSP are not discouraged by the cost of medical treatments. They don’t worry about how they will manage the bills. Instead, they believe driving up a large hospital bill reinforces the perception that they are doing everything they can for their child. They think others will see them as even better caretakers.  read more

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