Have you ever heard of someone who is not really sick but is pretending to be sick?
Sure, you have! That person is suffering from Munchhausen’s syndrome.
What is Munchausen’s syndrome?
Munchausen’s syndrome is a mental disorder that is exhibited by a continual and deliberate feigning (pretending) to be sick by a person who is not actually sick. According to Wikipedia,
“Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy or reassurance to themselves.”
The sufferers of this mental disorder can go to any length to feign being sick beyond any reasonable doubt; even to inflicting injuries on themselves.
How do you know people suffering from this disorder?
The symptoms of Munchausen’s syndrome are many and this disease is usually very hard for doctors to detect and diagnose; since the suffering individual is by his or herself dishonest.
However, if a person
- Has a dramatic yet inconsistent medical record,
- Has extensive knowledge of medical concepts and terminologies,
- Has a lot of surgical scars,
- Shows the proposed symptoms only when he or she is being observed or is with other people,
- Is abnormally willing to go for a medical test or an operation or
- Refuses his or her doctor from meeting with his or her friend, family members or previous doctors,
then the person is most likely suffering from this mental disorder.
What can cause Munchausen’s syndrome?
Medical researchers are on to determine the actual cause of this disorder, some theories attribute it to a history of child abuse and/or neglect, a history of recurring and frequent illnesses which involved hospitalization, and also personality disorder.
What danger are people suffering from this disease exposed to?
In trying to feign being sick, people with this disorder go as far as inflicting injuries on themselves; this can lead to further health risks and problems. Due to the personality disorder attached to this mental illness, the patient is at a very high risk of substance abuse and even attempts at suicide.
Can we treat this disease? And how.
Yes, it can be treated.
As you must have come to understand by now, this illness is mental, so the treatment for this disorder is not medicinal but psychological.
Using psychotherapy, attempts are made to change the thinking and behavior of the patient. This is the sure way stop the person from feigning symptoms.
Written by: Emoavwodua John