Most of us, in our youth, were probably asked this question in some form or another at least once by our parents; and most of us would probably admit to having faked being sick at least once in our lives. It is interesting, then, to note that there seems actually to be a pathology associated with this kind of behavior known as Munchausen syndrome. Munchausen syndrome is a serious mental disorder in which someone with a deep need for attention pretends to be sick or gets sick or injured on purpose.
People with Munchausen syndrome may make up symptoms, push for risky operations, or try to rig laboratory test results to try to win sympathy and concern. Once this group has children their syndrome may change to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Munchausen syndrome by proxy, also known as factitious disorder by proxy, is a form of child abuse where the mother or parent makes up or produces illnesses in their own child. Many cases of this disease have lead to the death of the child and imprisonment of the parent. This is a disease that needs to be made aware of and not looked over by anyone person.
Munchausen and Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome are extremely difficult to characterize and diagnose. It manifests in so many different forms that it often goes undetected. It is often difficult for physicians to believe that a mother would intentionally hurt or even kill her own offspring, as it is a mother’s job to protect and ensure that her children are protected from all harm. Symptoms of this disorder are often near impossible to distinguish, however, with raised awareness among doctors and nurses; it can be spotted and treated before a child is put in life-threatening jeopardy.
Personal reflection I was first introduced to Munchausen by proxy from a lifetime movie. I thought the events that took place in the movie where overly exaggerated until I read the article on Beverley Allitt. The physical pain and lies these people go through to get attention is mind boggling and then for that person to put that same pain on a child is just inhuman. With all that said I guess just like any other syndrome/disease you have to take in consideration that this person is sick and may not fully comprehend what they are doing.