"Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous than those of the body." - Cicero
Munchausen syndrome (MS) is a grave mental disorder that falls under a class of conditions, known as factitious disorders, that are either self-inflicted or made up by an individual.
Munchausen syndrome is a severe and chronic physical form of factitious disorder in which an attention-seeking person pretends to be sick, gets sick or injured by faking symptoms, rigging lab tests or by self-inflicting wounds or illnesses in order to gain concern and sympathy.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a variant of Munchausen syndrome in which an abuser, mostly a parent, tries to create symptoms in the abused, usually a child, in order to get attention.
Those with Munchausen syndrome often present with a history of repeated hospitalization and bizarre and unreal tales of past experiences. The disorder is mostly seen in males and is more prevalent among the young and the middle aged.
Munchausen syndrome is a mysterious disease and for this reason, it is very hard to treat. However, it should not be neglected and must be treated medically to avoid serious consequences.
Symptoms of Munchausen syndrome
Munchausen syndrome symptoms involve faked illnesses or inflicted injuries to satisfy a well-hidden emotional need.
However, these individuals are very good at hiding the core issue; therefore, it becomes very difficult to understand that their symptoms are actually part of a serious mental disorder.
Munchausen syndrome is not the same as hypochondria; while hypochondriacs truly believe that they are sick, the Munchausen individuals have a mental condition which involves faking their physical symptoms.
Common symptoms of Munchausen syndrome include-
- Frequent hospitalizations
- Vague / inconsistent symptoms
- Dramatic stories related to numerous medical problems
- Worsening symptoms for which reasons are unknown
- Eagerness to be subjected to frequent testing / risky operations
- Vast knowledge of medical terminologies / diseases
- Seeking treatment from various doctors / hospitals
- Frequent requests for pain relievers / other medications
- Few visitors during hospitalization
- Reluctance to let family /friends talk to health professionals
- Arguments with hospital staff
Those with Munchausen syndrome are extremely good at faking illnesses that even the best of health experts may not be able to see through them.
Some of the methods they adopt include-
- Faking medical history
- Faking symptoms such as stomach pain or seizures
- Inflicting harm by self-injury or by injecting themselves with milk, bacteria, feces, gasoline or by taking medicines such as those for diabetes, cancer or blood thinners to mimic a disease
- Delay healing by reopening cuts
- Tampering with equipments such as thermometers to manipulate values
- Tampering with lab results
Although individuals with Munchausen syndrome are well aware of the inherent risk of injury, or even death, they remain slaves to their compulsive behavior. If you have a loved one with the above -said symptoms do not allow your anger or frustration to interfere. Instead, make sure you offer support by seeking medical help.
- Factitious disorder - (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/munchausen-syndrome/DS00965/DSECTION=prevention)
- Factitious disorder imposed on self - (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki /M%C3%BCnchausen_syndrome)