Münchausen Syndrome Essay

1247 words - 5 pages

Münchausen syndrome is a psychiatric disorder that is distinguished by the patient causing or faking physical or psychological ailments for the sole purpose of being admitted to the hospital. A psychiatric consult nurse sees about one or two Münchausen cases a month (Interview with John Hauber, RN). Out of the entire United States population, only half to two percent of people have the disorder (medicinenet.com), but the number is probably higher than that because the statistic shown only represents the number of people diagnosed, and not everybody that has Münchausen is properly identified as having the disorder. (Interview with John Hauber, RN). The numbers are higher in certain subpopulations, such as people who have been diagnosed as having psychosis or fever of unknown source (medicinenet.com). It is also extremely difficult to get accurate statistics due to dishonesty and the tendency of patients to hop from one healthcare facility to the other (my.clevelandclinic.org).
Münchausen Syndrome has been described since at least Biblical times. An example of historical documentation would be that people during the medieval era have been recognized to scrape their skin off and put leeches in their mouths to cause bleeding (medicinenet.com). Münchausen syndrome was given its name in 1951 by Richard Asher (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov), for Baron Karl Friedrich von Münchausen. Baron was born in Germany during the year 1720 and deceased in 1797. He was known to tell extravagant stories about the battles he fought against the Ottoman Empire while he was enlisted in the Russian military (ncbi.nlm.gov).
Many people mistake Münchausen syndrome and Münchausen syndrome by proxy as the same thing. While it is true that they are very similar, they are not the same disorder. Münchausen syndrome usually precedes Münchausen syndrome by proxy, and generally developed during the late teen years and young adulthood. Münchausen syndrome by proxy, however, involves a third party; in most cases it’s a form of child abuse. The mother will purposefully make her offspring sick in order to get sympathy from the hospital staff while her child is being treated.
The symptoms of Münchausen syndrome include inconsistent and exaggerated medical history, the evidence of more than one surgical scar, foreseeable relapses after their ‘condition’ has improved, hesitant to allow doctors to meet or with or talk to family, friends, or previous doctors, and more (cleavelandclinic.org). There is not any way to test for Münchausen syndrome, but there is a diagnostic criterion: a patient with Münchausen syndrome typically has many hospitalizations for nonexistent medical problems over many years with the same complaint each and every time, and the usual primary complaint is something related to the gastrointestinal tract, such as abdominal pain (Interview with John Hauber, RN). It is very difficult to identify Münchausen syndrome because the patient’s statements are mostly untruthful and...

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