What is Munchausen Syndrome?
Munchausen syndrome is a rare condition also known as a factitious disorder that involves a sufferer inducing symptoms of illness in themselves or acting like they have physical or mental difficulties, although the latter is less common. In most cases, a person who has this condition embellishes symptoms of headaches, vomiting, joint pains, etc.
The Origins of Munchausen Syndrome
The syndrome owes its name to an 18th-century fictional German character Baron Munchausen, loosely based on a real baron who was known for telling exaggerated stories about his life.
The Symptoms of Munchausen Syndrome
There are several ways the syndrome might present itself:
- a person who has this condition might lie about their symptoms and describe having a dramatic medical history
- a sufferer might seem highly educated on the specifics of their illness and have a suspicious knowledge of medical terminology
- a person might have a history of seeking treatment in several different hospitals and dislike the idea of their previous doctor getting in touch with their current doctor
- the presence of multiple surgical scars
- identity and self-esteem problems
- symptoms that only appear when a person is around others
- relapse once the condition has improved
Recently, the condition known as Munchausen by Internet became a popular term. It refers to a situation when a person joins a Facebook group dedicated to those who suffer from a serious illness and pretends to be sick or pretend they’re posting on someone else’s behalf.
The Difference Between Munchausen Syndrome and Munchausen By Proxy
While Munchausen’s syndrome is a condition that makes the sufferer pretend they have an illness, Munchausen by proxy is a form of abuse. A person with Munchausen by proxy acts like someone they’re caring for is sick. For example, they might administer medicine the person doesn’t need or give them drugs that cause symptoms of an illness and fake lab results.
Munchausen by proxy has been featured in many recent movies and TV series, such as The Act, Everything, Everything or Sharp Objects.
What Causes Munchausen Syndrome?
Due to the nature of the condition that involves frequent lies, it’s impossible to estimate how many people suffer from it, which also makes it difficult to research it and so the cause remains unknown.
However, it is theorised that it might be linked to a history of abuse or parental neglect during childhood.
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