Munchausen Syndrome is a mysterious condition classified as a Factitious Disorder. This disorder is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Please understand that this is a serious condition and diagnosis that needs to be treated and addressed by medical/psychiatric professionals who have experience in treating it as such. The purpose of this guide is to glimpse into this mental illness & understand possibility for underlying substance abuse, addiction, and other treatable mental health struggles.
Here are 13 Things To Know About Munchausen Syndrome (Factitious Disorder):
1.) People with Munchausen Syndrome falsely enhance, exaggerate, or in some cases actually self-induce different illnesses.
The most basic definition for the complex Munchausen Syndrome is: a mental illness that involves a person pretending to have physical or psychological symptoms wherein those affected pretend to be affected by disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves.
- It was named after a 1785 character, Baron Munchausen, who became a minor celebrity within German fiction for telling outrageous tall tales from his military career.
2.) They feel the ultimate need to be perceived as unwell.
The common aim of someone who has this factitious disorder, is behaving in a way to pursue attention from others. They will mislead people into thinking they (or their children [see#11]) have serious medical or psychological problems, often resulting in numerous medication trials, diagnostic tests, hospitalizations. The person may want to obtain nurturance, sympathy and the effects accompanying someone who is ‘sick’. The attention they receive gives them a raised feeling of self-esteem and sense of feeling worthy.
3.) Different from Malingering;
which is to fake illness to avoid work, school, win a lawsuit, etc… The fabricating, dishonesty, and manipulation of a factitious disorder may be hard to understand, but the roots of the condition lie in a seriously troubled psyche and mental state. Often people that do this have severe emotional difficulties and psychological coping issues.
4.) It is an obsessive want to create symptoms as a victim in order to obtain repeated medical attention and medication
Often they will visit multiple doctors, seek numerous pills, and even undergo unnecessary tests or surgery procedures to fulfill their role as a ‘sick person’.
5.) Unlike Hypochondria
Hypochondriacs, who honestly believe that there is something wrong with their body or mind, people with factitious disorder are aware that they are not truly sick. Hypochondriacs become truly alarmed about any physical or psychological symptoms they have, no matter how minor it may be, and are convinced that they have, or to be diagnosed with a serious illness. Phobias or the idea that one has a serious disease based on the own person’s misinterpretations is not the same.
6.) Drug and alcohol abuse produce symptoms of their desired sickness
Munchausen is usually accompanied by other mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and alcohol or drug addiction. When a patient is an unhealthy drug addict, it can sometimes fool people into believing their other health cries. Severe patients are frequent to hospitalizations, have knowledge of several illnesses, and frequently request medication like pain painkillers or other narcotics.
7.) Adults are most likely to develop Munchausen syndrome.
Many have been victims of some sort of trauma, childhood neglect, or experienced traumatic moments in their life. Poor relationships and emotions from them particularly make sufferers more vulnerable to developing this factitious disorder. Females are diagnosed with this Munchausen Syndrome more frequently than men. (75% estimated diagnosed are women)
8.) A long, but inconclusive medical record is typical for this type of patient
There is pattern of visiting multiple medical facilities and having numerous tests without a clear diagnosis. Often they will present an eagerness to have tests done, be admitted to the hospital, or even have surgeries. Unwillingness to allow medical practitioners talk with family members or consult with other doctors can be common with these cases.
9.) History of manipulative, dishonest behavior often go as far back as childhood.
A patient with Munchausen syndrome will typically give a credible and remarkable medical history, which is completely made up. Perhaps also an individual has an anti-social personality with a desire to deceive or test authority figures.
10.) Many with Munchausen seem to have extensive knowledge of healthcare.
People suffering from Munchausen’s syndrome are highly knowledgeable about medical terminology, medicine, and are able to produce symptoms that result in. According to the American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, a noticeably large percentage of those who suffer from factitious disorder work in healthcare or medical professions.
11.) Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy
is when someone (a caregiver) makes another person sick, requiring medical attention. Usually this involves a parent harming a child. As an example, when a mother fabricates or exaggerates symptoms of their child, a physician will investigate the child with the predetermination of the told symptoms. The deep investigating of the child’s issues are likely to be invasive. Then becomes a dangerous situation where a doctor will unknowingly misdiagnose a child, therefore leading to un-needed and harmful consequences like pharmaceutical trials of all sorts.
- Example- Famous rapper Eminem was a victim of Munchausen by Proxy as a child. His mother would treat him like he was sick when he wasn’t, causing him to take medication he didn’t actually need, likely leading to his later issues with drug addiction. (See also: How Eminem Found Replacement For Drugs)
12.) The detection of Munchausen from physicians is vital for it to be prevented
Clinicians need to notice that patients (or persons reporting for patients) may fabricate, pretend, or malinger. Extreme caution should be taken by all family members and doctors alike to ensure there is evidence for a diagnosis.
13.) Dual Diagnosis treatment is the answer for those who suffer from addiction and a psychological disorder
There are several symptoms that together point to Munchausen syndrome. Factitious disorder is mysterious and can be hard to treat. Help involving individual therapy to change the way you think about yourself is critical. Most research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective form of therapy. Also treatment should involve family counseling for you and your loved ones. The main point is that you will need a program that is staffed by caring, compassionate professionals who understand the complex condition. As with any other sensitive and extensive topic with mental health, there are always exceptions in certain cases. If you suspect someone of suffering from Munchausen or other factitious disorders, speak to a professional. (See: What is Dual-Diagnosis?)
For more information about Dual Diagnosis, Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers, and Substance Abuse Rehab Facilities contact us. 888-315-5451