Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSP) -- or Munchausen by proxy -- is a psychological disorder marked by attention-seeking behavior by a caregiver through those who are in their care.
MSP is a relatively rare behavioral disorder. It affects a primary caretaker, often the mother. The person with MSP gains attention by seeking medical help for exaggerated or made-up symptoms of a child in his or her care. As health care providers strive to identify what's causing the child's symptoms, the deliberate actions of the mother or caretaker can often make the symptoms worse.
It's 9 p.m., and you're still at work. You can't relax at home with unfinished work on your desk. And if you don't get this done, your boss will be upset. At least, that's what you think.
It isn't the work that leaves you unable to relax. It's that you see the work as a threat. Stress is not a reaction to an event but rather to how you interpret the event, says psychologist Allan R. Cohen, PsyD. You think, "If I don't work late every night, I will get fired," or "My boss won't like me," or "My...
The person with MSP does not seem to be motivated by a desire for any type of material gain. While health care providers are often unable to identify the specific cause of the child's illness, they may not suspect the mother or caretaker of doing anything to harm the child. In fact the caregiver often appears to be very loving and caring and extremely distraught over her child's illness.
People with MSP may create or exaggerate a child's symptoms in several ways. They may simply lie about symptoms, alter tests (such as contaminating a urine sample), falsify medical records, or they may actually induce symptoms through various means, such as poisoning, suffocating, starving, and causing infection.
What Are the Symptoms of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy?
Certain characteristics are common in a person with MSP, including: