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- This article is about the self-inflicted factitious disorder. For the type of abuse commonly known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, see Fabricated or Induced Illness.
Munchausen syndrome is a psychiatric disorder in which those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. It is in a class of disorders known as factitious disorders which involve "illnesses" whose symptoms are either self-induced or falsified by the patient. It is also sometimes known as Hospital addiction syndrome.
In Munchausen syndrome, the affected person exaggerates or creates symptoms of illnesses in himself or herself in order to gain investigation, treatment, attention, sympathy, and comfort from medical personnel. The role of "patient" is a familiar and comforting one, and it fills a psychological need in people with Munchausen's. It is distinct from hypochondria in that the patient is aware that he is exaggerating, while sufferers of hypochondria actually believe they have a disease.
There is some controversy on the exact causes of the syndrome, but an increased occurrence has been reported[How to reference and link to summary or text] in healthcare professionals and close family members of people with a chronic illness such as manic depression.
Individuals with the Munchausen pattern of behaviour may be admitted to many hospitals under many medical teams.
Origin of the name
The name derives from one Baron Münchhausen (Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Freiherr von Münchhausen, 1720-1797), to whom were ascribed a series of fantastically impossible tales written by Rudolf Raspe.
In 1951, Sir Richard Asher (father of Jane Asher and Peter Asher) was the first to describe a pattern of self-harm, where individuals fabricated histories, signs, and symptoms of illness. Remembering Baron Munchausen, Asher named this condition Munchausen's Syndrome. Originally, this term was used for all factitious disorders. Now, however, there is considered to be a wide range of factitious disorders, and the diagnosis of "Munchausen syndrome" is reserved for the most severe form, where the simulation of disease is the central activity of the affected person's life.
Comparison to Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII)
Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) is the formal name of a type of abuse in which a caregiver feigns or induces an illness in a person under their care, in order to attract attention, sympathy, or to fill other emotional needs. It is aso known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP), due to its similarity to Munchausen syndrome, in which a person feigns or induces illness in themselves for similar emotional reasons. While a person can be said to be "suffering" from Munchausen syndrome, it is incorrect to state that a caretaking person who perpetrates abuse is "suffering" from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
- Fabricated or Induced Illness, also known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy
- Factitious disorders
- Psychosomatic illness
- Somatoform disorders
- Dr. Marc Feldman's Munchausen Syndrome, Malingering, Factitious Disorder, & Munchausen by Proxy Page - Page offering information on Munchausen and its many other names. Offers information on Dr. Feldman's books and his email address for interested parties.
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