Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy Essay

2112 words - 9 pages

A mental disorder, or illness, is defined as “a mental… condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of the individual” (Merriam & Webster, 2014). Mental illness affects approximately 1 of 4 people in the United States over the age of 18, or 26.2%. Of that 26.2%, six percent of them suffer from a mental disorder that is considered serious and 45% of them have characteristics that meet the criteria for more than one mental disorder. On any given day, 6.7% of United States citizens are suffering from depression, 1.5% are suffering from dysthymic disorder, 2.6% are exhibiting signs and ...view middle of the document...

Due to the disorder being so rare and so often misdiagnosed, the causes and motives for Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy are based on theories rather than substantial research. Both medical and mental health professionals have come to the conclusion that the parents of the children being admitted into the hospital often have a profound psychological need to have their children assume the sick role in order to receive unnecessary and potentially harmful medical treatment so that the mother, or caregiver, can feel needed and important to both the child and medical professionals. Often times, the caregiver has sufficient knowledge about the health field. The caregiver also appears overly concerned about the well-being of the child (Criddle, 2010).
There are many other possible motives for why the caregiver induces illness in the child. Some of these include: gaining sympathy, respect, and attention by being thought of as the ‘rescuer’ of the child, showing off their medical knowledge by outwitting medical professionals to prove they are the ones in control, escaping other responsibilities in life (i.e.: employment, taking care of the house, continuing education) due to the belief that no one would expect them to accomplish these things and take care of an ill child, and having a social life by becoming part of the hospital ‘family’. There are also many other incentives that the caregiver takes into consideration, such as becoming eligible for food stamps, government housing, medications, support from the community, and donations (Criddle, 2010).
It is very easy for doctors and other medical professionals to misdiagnose Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy due to the fact that the caregivers are so “caring” toward the child and that health care providers often do not suspect child abuse until all other alternatives have been considered and ruled out. However, in most cases, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is diagnosed because the symptoms that the child is conveying do not match any typical diagnosis and do not respond to typical therapies. This could lead to harmful tests and treatments, which can cause Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy to become life-threatening. Another reason for Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy to be diagnosed is that while the child is in the hospital environment, the signs and symptoms they are having disappear, however, they reappear when the child is discharged to go back home (Criddle, 2010).
There are no theories related directly to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, however, Ramona Mercer’s theory involving the attainment of the maternal role incorporates a mother having the desire to feel needed by the child. The Maternal Role Attainment Theory can be used throughout pregnancy and postnatal care and is used to develop a strong maternal identity. The primary concept of the theory is the developmental and interactional process of becoming a mother. Throughout this process, “the mother bonds with the infant, acquires competence in general...

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