Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a mental health problem in which you try to get sympathy by causing illness in someone else and then seeking medical care for that other person. Usually the victim is a child that is too young to talk or understand what is happening to them. Sometimes, victims are elderly or disabled adults. Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a form of abuse. The medical term for this disorder is factitious disorder imposed on another.
The exact cause of this disorder is not known. You are more likely to have this disorder if you:
You may feel insecure, uncertain, lonely, and depressed. You may believe that your ill child will bring a closer relationship with your spouse.
Most people with MSBP are mothers of young children. However, fathers, day care providers, and healthcare providers may also have this disorder.
If you have this disorder, you may:
Victims of MSBP may have problems that:
MSBP may be suspected by healthcare providers who care for the victims. MSBP is diagnosed by gathering evidence, such as filming you abusing the victim in a hospital room. You may not get help until you are caught by the police.
Once the victim is safe, the person with MSBP may be treated with therapy.
There are no medicines known to help MSBP.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or self-harm, violence, or harming others.
If you suspect that someone you know has MSBP, get help right away. If you're not sure who to call, look in the phone book for listings under child abuse, Department of Social Services, or Department of Human Services.
You can also call your local law enforcement agency if you think the victim is in immediate danger. For more information, contact: