Munchhausen by Proxy: Abuse for the Sake of Attention
According to doctors, Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MBPS) is an uncommon condition that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a primary caretaker.
When I was in college, I had to do a paper on the subject. I had never heard this term before that day. As I started the research phase of my paper, I found documented cases of this "condition".
One of the most harmful forms of child abuse,and confusing too. MBPS was named after Baron Von Munchausen, an 18th-century German dignitary known for telling tall tale stories. The term is used to encase a very disturbing mental illness.
What characterizes MBPS
As far fetched as it seams, a person with Munchhausen, is caring for a constantly ill child typically between the age of 0 to 13 years old.
Not to confuse it with a child that has a documented chronic condition. The patient presents with mysterious symptoms that seams to get worse or have a complete change in pathology.
The visits to the doctor and to the emergency room are more and more frecuent. But the child never gets better. This gives the mother the attention she craves, and in return keeps doing it even if it means their child's life.
Case of MSBP
Proof of wrong doing
Is extremely difficult to prove a case of MBPS. The doctors and other health care providers have to establish motive, opportunity, in other words have probable cause that the parent or care giver purposely caused harm to the child with the intent to bring sympathy and attention from others.
As a nurse, it does not crossed my mind to look for signs at first glance. How can we, parents are supposed to care for their kids not make them sick for an attention fix. But we do keep record of "Frequent Fliers ", Those faces that we see almost every week with the same symptoms or another set of ailments are recorded in our memory. Then we make sure to make the annotations necessary to establish a pattern.
Behind closed doors
To be very honest, this is a very serious and very disturbing condition. Even today, I can't wrap my mind around this condition! I chose a case study regarding this woman that after killing seven of her own children ( The coroner thought it was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) was caught after a police officer noticed the pattern. HELLO!!!
My question is how to prove if indeed is MSBP? Kids get sick, kids are abused, but how can anyone proves that a mother abuses the child to get attention?! Most if not all child abusers keep the abuse under wraps to keep other in the dark. But a person with this condition seeks help for the child and for herself. Is very complicated to understand and even more difficult to prove.
Opposing to the claim of MSBP
Do you think this is a real mental illness, or just an excuse to get away with murder?
Just scratching the surface
This is a very serious matter. The specifics of this condition are so wide and controversial that they would need a series of articles to go over the key points in regards to the disease. As any mental illness, is has to be assess and documented separately so to not generalize.
Many have proposed that this is just a theory and not to be confused with plain abuse, or to accuse a concerned, loving and caring parent of the untimely death of a very sick child. Could you tell the difference?