Munchausen Syndrome

Munchausen syndrome, sometimes called factitious disorder, is a disorder describing an individual’s tendency to inflict or pretend to inflict pain to him or herself. The syndrome was named after a German military member, Baron von Munchausen who went around telling stories about his fabricated adventures. Munchausen syndrome was later used to describe people claiming that they had illnesses. The individual will induce pain to him or herself to cause harm to the body, which may become serious and require hospitalization. An individual with Munchausen Syndrome is usually anxious to undergo treatment.

The syndrome is a psychiatric disorder; an infected individual usually craves the attention and sympathy of doctors and crowd. There is a relative condition usually referred to as Munchausen by proxy syndrome which describes a caretaker’s habit of faking symptoms and inflicting injury to someone else. Pain is often inflicted in a child. Since the care-taker is to supposedly take of one’s health, he or she is hardly suspected of any ill-treatment.

The primary cause of munchausen syndrome is unknown so doctors would need to confirm that it is actually Munchausen Syndrome so it is not confused with other psychiatric disorders. Sometimes it may be difficult to treat the disorder without affecting other present disorders.

Mortality/Morbidity of Munchausen Syndrome

The possibility of morbidity and mortality is high in patients with munchausensyndrome, as the infliction of pain to one’s self may result in bacterial infection. The disorder usually affects both men and women but is more prevalent in men. Typically, it can be identified in patients by an impatient urge to visit several doctors, with complaints of sicknesses and symptoms that are always different.

How to indentify Munchausen Syndrome

There may be obvious irregularity in the summary of the patient’s medical complications. A patient may complain about a pain in the head one minute, and the other minute the complaint changes to a pain the hand, for example.
There may be proof of deception in the symptoms that the patient says he or she is experiencing. Sometimes they create their own symptoms for their so-called sickness.

To become hospitalized, patients may act as if they have been infected with a serious disease and even present the doctor with fabricated symptoms. They will go out of their way to make their story appear true and will go as far as overdosing with medication.

Treatment for Munchausen Syndrome

Treatment can be complicated as there is no particular therapy that is geared towards treating the condition. It is difficult to treat someone who doesn’t want to be treated. Even though there is no set treatment for the disorder, management of the disorder is possible. Treatment is inclusive of behavioral counseling and psychotic therapy, and in some cases therapy is offered to the entire family of an individual that suffers from Munchausen Syndrome. The use of medication is able to make alterations to mental disorders resulting from depression and anxiety. The need for psychiatric hospitalization may occur in extreme situations.

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