For my research paper I chose the two mental illnesses of hypochondriasis and Munchausen by proxy. I chose these topics because I have an aunt related by marriage who is thought to have hypochondriasis and Munchausen by proxy because like hypochondriasis it can be used as a way to gain attention or sympathy from others. I will start off with hypochondriasis since it is the illness I have the most familiarity with.
Hypochondriasis is defined in the DSM-IV-TR under somatoform disorders as “Preoccupation with fears of having, or the idea that one has, a serious disease based on the person’s misinterpretation of bodily symptoms.” This preoccupation of having an illness will persist even after medical evaluation.
In the case of my aunt who I’ll call Bertha for the sake of anonymity she believes that she has multiple sclerosis (M.S.). She has claimed to have had it for as long as I can remember but shows no symptoms to the disease. One of the symptoms she claims to show is the intolerance for heat; this all changed when she desired to go Israel and her M.S. was miraculously cured. When my mom twisted her ankle my Aunt Bertha faked a seizure. We could tell it was fake because Aunt Bertha would stop seizing long enough to put more food in her mouth. She has gone to three licensed doctors who all said she needed to receive psychiatric help because she was showing no signs of M.S. My Aunt Bertha then found a all natural doctor who doesn’t use modern drugs or tests who confirmed her diagnosis of M.S. The doctor then proceeded to prescribe pills to my Aunt saying that they were the cure to M.S. that she had created herself.
As it stands there is no cure for multiple sclerosis so it stands to reason that the doctor is playing of my Aunt’s hypochondriasis for easy money or seriously believes she has found a cure.
Not all cases of hypochondriasis are for attention others are caused by paranoia of having a serious illness.
The cause of hypochondriasis is still unknown, some theories involve physical or sexual abuse, serious illness as a child, or learning it from a parent/close relative. When a kid is exposed to a parent or relative with hypochondriasis the child may learn to become overly concerned about disease and/or overreact to symptoms they experience. Because the cause of hypochondriasis is unknown it makes it hard to treat. There are treatments from prefrontal lobotomies to medication. Today the most common form of treatment is counseling where they focus on the anxiety caused by the fear of having a disease. In some cases the patient is prescribed with anti-depressant or anti-anxiety but only if depression or if an anxiety problem is present. The most common therapy accepted by patients is CBT or cognitive behavior therapy; this was 74% of patients’ first choice of form of treatment (S.Taylor, 2005 p.15). “Current Directions in the Treatment of Hypochondriasis” by S. Taylor states that no treatment seems to work faster than another and...