Munchausen syndrome by proxy

Munchausen syndrome by proxy

A history of child abuse, not only affects a child emotionally but also the development of the brain. The child feels the safest with the parent. But what happens when the parent becomes the abuser?

Dr Prerna Kohli India’s Top Psychologist talks about Munchausen syndrome by proxy
Dr Prerna Kohli India’s Top Psychologist talks about Munchausen syndrome by proxy

In Psychology, Munchausen syndrome by proxy is classified under the factitious disorder. A factitious disorder is a mental illness where the person would deliberately fake or exaggerate an illness and has two types. First is the one that the person imposes on self. Second is the one that the person imposes on other.

This is often accompanied by extreme emotional difficulties and stress.

 

A caregiver or a child abuser?

A child abuser will fall under the second category of this disorder. The person will falsify the symptoms of all illness in others under their care. Their victims are usually children, old people, any disabled person. This is more common in mothers. Their main intention is to seek other people’s attention. They could go up to a limit of harming their own child.

Early Signs

Most of the patients with the condition could have a history of one or more of the following:

  • Child abuse/ neglect
  • Trauma
  • Unhealthy family environment
  • Chronic illness to self or any family member
  • Extended hospitalization of self or any family member
  • Unhealthy social life
  • People working in the healthcare sector.

It is believed that biological as well as psychological factors, both contribute to the development of this illness. The presence of several warning signs can be found in such a person. The child has a record of too many hospitalizations and symptoms reported are unusual. The reports and the diagnosis reported does not match. It is always the mother who reports about the decline in child’s health and there is no other witness. The child feels sick around when the mother is around. In the worst cases, one can find the poisonous substance child’s blood or urine. The presence of a similar scenario with siblings or death of a child in similar circumstances may also be a warning sign.

 

Effect on the child

Dr Prerna Kohli India’s Top Psychologist talks about Munchausen syndrome by proxy
Dr Prerna Kohli India’s Top Psychologist talks about Munchausen syndrome by proxy

The diagnosis of the disorder is very difficult. The people believe the parent instead of the child. Hence, such cases remain under-reported. We may feel it is just an attention seeking behaviour. But what we need to understand here is that a constant pattern of an unhealthy behaviour is not normal. More than the mother with the disorder, the child suffers. Falling prey of such a manipulator can lead to lifelong consequences.

Read more about child abuse- http://www.drprernakohli.in/child-abuse/

Learn more about Dr Prerna Kohli

 

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