Munchausen Syndrome (Factitious Disorder): Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Panaimaram

Factitious disorder, previously termed as Munchausen Syndrome, is a mental condition in which a person acts and deceives other people by appearing to be sick. The person does not have any malingering motive but deliberately shows that they have a severe illness by exaggerating symptoms to gain the image of a patient , .

It can be imposed by one person on another, that is, a caretaker or a parent can fabricate illness and disabilities to their ward. The condition can be easily understood by the real-life case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who was forced to act as a patient by her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard. The intriguing case had received global attention and is used as the prime example of the varying degrees of factitious disorder .

[Source: Verywell Mind]

An individual with factitious disorder goes to the extent of forging symptoms by tainting urine samples and medical tests so as to convince others. The symptoms of the condition can range from mild to severe, with some going to the extent of receiving high-risk surgeries . Factitious disorder should not be confused with malingering motives which are fabricated with the aim of gaining practical benefits such as winning a lawsuit or taking a break from work .

Individuals with the mental condition do not shy away from taking up various risks so as to obtain the sympathy and special attention. In most cases, it is associated with other mental conditions such as personality disorders and emotional difficulties .

Factitious disorders are in a way similar to that of somatoform disorders. There is a lack of accurate statistics regarding the number of people who suffer from the disorder as dishonesty is the central trait with the condition. However, factitious disorders are commonly found in men than in women and factitious disorder by proxy tends to be more common in women than in men .

The mental condition is categorised into four different types , , .

Individuals who fall under this type tend to mimic behavioural patterns of a mental disorder such as schizophrenia. The individual can appear confused, make absurd statements and report hallucinations, such as hearing voices. Ganser syndrome, also termed as prison psychosis falls under this category and the individuals tend to have episodes of abnormal behaviour that are usually displayed by individuals with real mental disorders.

Individuals under this category tend to claim that they have symptoms pertaining to physical illness such as chest pain, stomach problems, or fever.

Individuals who fall under this category tend to display symptoms of both physical and mental illness.

People who fall under this category do not fabricate the symptoms of severe illness on themselves but on others. The disorder is termed as factitious disorder by proxy and also, Munchausen syndrome by proxy. It is mostly reported in mothers, with some rare cases in fathers too who harm their children to receive attention.

The possible warning signs of the mental disorder include the following , :

Individuals with factitious disorder are experts at faking illness and can go to severe extends to develop signs and symptoms of diseases. The individuals can make up symptoms through various ways :

Although the specific cause behind the disorder is not known, it is asserted to be a combination of psychological factors and stressful life experiences. It can also be due to an underlying personality disorder . The need to get sympathy and attention is one of the other major reasons why individuals tend to develop the syndrome .

Certain factors can increase an individual's tendency to develop factitious disorder .

Individuals who have factitious syndrome are willing to go to the far extends in faking their condition. As this is a result of possible psychological problems, they are increasingly prone to various complications .

Examining the condition is extremely difficult. Individuals with the factitious syndrome are experts at making up symptoms of different diseases and condition. So, the doctors tend to carry out the following steps to see the severity of the condition , .

The lack of standardised therapies for the condition makes it difficult. As people with the disorder desire to keep up their role as the sick one, they are most likely to be unwilling to seek or undergo any treatments. However, doctors assert that approaching the individuals in a gentle and non-judgemental manner may let them into considering undergoing treatment. By adopting the non-judgemental approach, the doctors may successfully influence the individual to undergo mental health treatment .

The other treatment options focus on managing the condition.

Along with the professional help, following these steps can be helpful for an individual suffering from the disorder .

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