Munchausen’s Syndrome, also known as factitious disorder imposed on self, is a mental illness. A person diagnosed with Munchausen’s Syndrome repeatedly acts as if they have a physical, emotional, or cognitive disorder when the opposite is true. The person with Munchausen’s Syndrome is the one causing the symptoms.
Why and How Do They Cause the Symptoms?
People cause the symptoms of a physical, emotional, and cognitive disorder because of an inner desire to have others see them as ill or injured. However, they do not act this way for any financial gain or any other concrete benefit involved. To get sympathy and special attention and care from others, they are willing to endure painful, intensive, or risky operations and tests.
Some even go as far as injuring themselves to draw blood such as having blood in the urine or cyanosis of a limb where they cut the blood supply off to a certain part of the body, causing the skin to turn a shade a blue. Therefore, a person suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome is dealing with severe emotional distress. Munchausen’s Syndrome can occur in children, but young adults are more likely to develop it.
What Are the Symptoms of Munchausen’s Syndrome?
The symptoms of Munchausen’s Syndrome include:
- Dramatic, but varying medical history
- Unclear symptoms that are not controllable and that become more severe or change once treatment has begun
- Expected relapses following improvement in the condition
- Extensive knowledge of hospitals and/or medical terms along with textbook descriptions of diseases and illnesses
- Presence of several scars due to surgery
- Developing of new or more symptoms following negative test results
- Symptoms appear only when the patient is alone or is not under observation
- Willingness or eagerness to have operations, medical tests, or other procedures
- History of seeking treatment at several clinics hospitals, and doctors’ offices, perhaps located in a different city than theirs
- Unwillingness by the patient to allow medical professionals to meet with or talk to family, friends, or previous medical professionals
- Issues with identity and self-esteem
- More comfortable staying in the hospital than others
- Extensive medical knowledge from many hospitalizations or previous work
What Causes Munchausen’s Syndrome?
Even though researchers have not been able to determine the exact cause behind Munchausen’s Syndrome, they think that both psychological and biological factors may have a part in the development of this.
Some researchers have even theorized that a history of neglect and abuse as a child or a history of falling ill and being hospitalized may be responsible for its developments. Researchers are also trying to find links of Munchausen’s Syndrome with personality disorders, which people with this syndrome commonly suffer from.