Also known as Factitious Disorder, Munchausen’s syndrome is a psychological disorder involving deliberate feigning or exaggerating of illness.
Individuals may go to great lengths to produce symptoms, such as injecting foreign substances into the body to elicit infection or sepsis. There is no motive for any legal or monetary gain.
Types of behaviour associated with Munchausen’s syndrome-
There are four main ways people with the psychological disorder may behave in order to fake or induce illness and injury, such as;
- lying about symptoms
- tampering with test results
- self-inflicting wounds
- aggravating pre-existing conditions
Signs and symptoms -
There are many clues that a person may have Munchausen's syndrome, according to the NHS, these include:
- frequent visits to hospitals in different areas
- claims of past medical history with no or little documentary evidence
- symptoms that don't correspond with test results
- very good medical knowledge
- willingness to undergo painful or dangerous tests and procedures
- reporting vague, inconsistent or ‘textbook example’ symptoms
- telling unbelievable and elaborate stories of their past
Research and case studies have determined certain contributing factors, these include:
- emotional trauma or illness during childhood
- personality disorder
- personal grudge against authority figures or healthcare professionals
- childhood trauma such as parental neglect or abandonment
Unlike other psychological disorders, diagnosing Munchausen’s syndrome can be challenging as sufferers are often very convincing and skilled at manipulating doctors, especially given their duty of care to patients and natural interest in unusual conditions.
If the syndrome is detected in a person, a thorough check of their health history will be completed, checking for any inconsistencies between their claimed and actual medical history. Contact with friends and family may also be made.
A serious of tests are likely to be carried out checking for evidence of self-inflicted illness or results tampering and possible motivations will also be assessed.
- clear evidence of fabricating or inducing symptoms
- prime motivation is to be seen as sick
- no other likely reason or explanation for their behaviour
Similar to diagnosis, treatment can also be difficult and complicated, with most people refusing to admit any problem and co-operate.
If the individual chooses to accept help, treatments can include:
- Minimised medical contact from doctor in charge
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Family therapy.