What is Munchausen Syndrome?

Munchausen syndrome is a serious mental disorder in which someone pretends to be sick or deliberately causes illness or injury in order to fulfill deep emotional needs. People with Munchausen syndrome may make up symptoms, push for risky operations, or try to rig laboratory test results in their effort to win sympathy and concern. Today, the Internet provides a way for people with Munchausen syndrome to garner sympathy from around the world.

Munchausen syndrome is a type of condition broadly known as factitious disorder. Factitious means false or artificial, and indeed, these disorders are either made up or self-inflicted. Factitious disorders can be psychological or physical. Munchausen syndrome refers to the most severe and chronic physical form of factitious disorder.

Munchausen syndrome was named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th-century German officer who greatly embellished the stories of his life. Although it has been around for centuries, Munchausen syndrome remains mysterious and difficult to treat. The key to successful treatment is understanding the underlying psychological factors.


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6 thoughts on “What is Munchausen Syndrome?

  1. Question: Can Muncheusan by proxie be defined as a mother who subtly and consistently degrades the adult child’s self esteem. Then contributes to isolation and obesity so the she (the mother) will be needed to take care of the adult child?

    I am trying to figure out why my mother does this to me. I’ve lost weight and am beginning to get out socially and her behavior has escalated. Can this be related to Mucheusan or is this another disorder?

    Thank you

  2. I would just like to comment that Munchausen Syndrome on its own refers only to the factitious disorder in which people harm themselves or pretend to be ill. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy refers to people who harm others in order to gain the filtered attention of others.

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