“Help, my daughter has stopped breathing!” she cried out entering the emergency room. In Sickened the autobiography written by Julie Gregory shares her abusive childhood to enlighten her readers about Munchausen Syndrome by proxy. With all the attention to protect children from abuse, how can child abuse not be recognized?
Child abuse is usually recognized by a pattern of physical injuries or outward appearance of neglect. From RelayHealth, Munchausen Syndrome by proxy is a mental disorder, causing illness in others, usually children, to get sympathy and attention for the abuser. With the mental disorder of MSBP documented, the behaviors of the abuser and victims should be easy to identify, but it is not. Any parent/guardian entering the emergency room insisting on immediate care for their child would be considered a suspect. According to RelayHealth, dishonesty is a key part of the ...view middle of the document...
Unfortunately, medical experts still have not determined if MSBP is a psychologically basis or a medical condition. (Nielsen) The cause for MSBP is unknown. (RelayHealth) Since many times there are no physical injuries of the abuse, there is a lack of evidence to protect the child. (Mcnatt) Julie Gregory summarizes it best of how elusive this abuse is to society by comparing her parents, a father who had a mild case of paranoid schizophrenia after returning from the Vietnam War and a mother who was affected by MSBP. “…wonder if perhaps the woman who is your mother is actually crazier than the man who is your father only without the paperwork to back it up.”(Gregory, 13)
Paperwork is the key to identifying the abuse although stopping the abuse it not as easy even with paperwork to back it up. In the movie, A Child’s Cry for Help, the boy who is abused is saved only because there was a history of medical abuse from an earlier sibling who died. Only in the movies is there a clear path for each character, life itself is usually messy. For one hearing, records show 150 emergency visits over four years for three girls whose mother insisted the girls needed treatment or tests for cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, headaches, seizures, use of feeding tube, wheelchair, leg braces and safety helmet – none were needed testified the pediatrician. (Nielsen) The mother lost custody of her children but she was not charged with child abuse. It should be easy to prosecute with so much evidence, but the 150 records were in various counties in North Texas as well as other states, Nebraska and Iowa. According to the prosecutors, the problem is jurisdiction. (Nielsen) Records in various locations are a common characteristic for abuse cases involving MSBP. (Mcnatt)
Imagine accusing a parent of child abuse because they insisted on the medical professionals to treat their sick child. Which sounds crazier the abuser or the accuser? The abuse is deceptive; presenting itself as a concerned parent instead of the true motive to get attention for the abuser by making their child ill.