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Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

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* Discuss Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a disorder many find both bizarre and disturbing.

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a disorder many find both bizarre and disturbing. People in general find this syndrome bizarre due to lack of knowledge, the limited information available about the disorder, and the rarity of this disorder diagnosed within the mental health field. I believe people in general find this disorder disturbing because of the natural human instinct for healthy individuals to protect and love children. In addition, parents find this disorder to be exceptionally disturbing because they have greater personal and emotional feelings towards children as they reflect on their own child and "can never imagine someone doing this to their child".

My personal experience of working with mental health patients that have a diagnosis that falls within the Somatization syndrome has proven to be challenging. I have only experienced one "suspected" case of Munchausen when I worked at Brynn Marr with the 3-12 year old group. My only involvement as a mental health technician with this child was to support the child like every other child in my group by role modeling, teaching skills to help the children appropriate respond the their environment and challenges, supporting them to safely express their feelings, and of course, observe and document. This case was discussed at length between the general practitioner, psychiatrist, and nurses. My last knowledge of the situation was that the situation was reported to protective services for investigation and the child was discharged from Brynn Marr to a temporary care home and not to the mother.

* What do you think is the explanation behind such a disorder?

Our textbook outlines general ideas as to what may be behind such Somatization disorders. There are numerous resource books, internet sites, and publications that discuss Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Vaguely Somatization disorders can be described as follows:

"(...) a syndrome of nonspecific physical symptoms that cannot be fully explained by a known medical condition after appropriate investigation. This syndrome has also been called "medically unexplained symptoms," "medically unexplained physical symptoms," "functional somatic symptoms," and "somatic symptom disorders." The symptoms are associated with distress and may be caused or exacerbated by anxiety, depression, and interpersonal conflicts. Somatization can be conscious or unconscious and may be influenced by a desire for the sick role or for personal gain." (Greenburg, 2013)

I have found that if I distance myself from personal feelings, judgments, and opinions then understanding and sorting out "what is behind such a disorder" becomes very clear. There are various motives for any Somatization disorder, likewise, is true for Munchausen by proxy with the exception that a person with Munchausen by proxy uses their "authority or power to act for another (in this case on another)". (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

* Do you think Munchausen syndrome by proxy should be considered a psychological disorder or a crime?

Munchausen syndrome by proxy should be considered both a psychological disorder and a crime. There are many psychiatric conditions that are associated with criminal acts. A crime is defined as "(intent) to commit an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government". (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)There are other disorders that are both a psychiatric condition and a crime.

Some psychiatric conditions that are crimes include the following:

"Kleptomania, Pyromania, Voyeurism, Exhibitionism, Frotteurism, and Pedophilia" (Menaster)

Other psychiatric conditions that are commonly associated with



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