Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome

There are many kinds of mental disorders, but there is one that affects people who then have the capability to hurt other people; specifically little children under their care, in order to gain attention or just for their self satisfaction – it is called the Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

mother hugging her child

In the 2017 version of Stephen King’s ever famous IT; which is an adaptation of his book with the same title, we stumble upon a child character named Eddie. The story starts off with a group of kids, they are all friends and they love to play around together. But as the story progresses, we will notice the different issues experienced by each kid. There we see that the kid called Eddie has a very strict mother; she is strict to the point where she didn’t want her beloved son to leave their house most of the time. According to film critics, Eddie’s story was often misinterpreted. What people see as a strict mother who just wants the best for her son, the truth behind the character of Eddie’s mom is her having a mental condition called Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

Simply notice the behavior of Eddie’s mom and they are clear enough to be seen as improper. According to an article written at, Eddie isn’t really sick at all. During the movie, the kid can be seen with many different meds and an inhaler most of the time. They are, however, not really used to treat whichever illness Eddie has. Instead, his mother has been faking his sickness to the point where she made him use medications and inhalers in order to take control of the kid.

Disturbing, right?

The Truth Behind MSBP

Based on a list by IMDb, there are 16 movies that involve a character with Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

Munchausen syndrome by proxy, also referred to as MSBP, is a mental disorder wherein a person who acts as a primary caretaker of a child; mostly the mother forces their dependent on fake sickness or diseases.

This mental condition is said to be a form of child abuse. There are times when some of the caretakers reach the point where they inflict harm on the dependents just to make the sickness look true and convincing.

Here are a few more facts regarding Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

  • Munchausen syndrome is a lot similar to MSBP – their only difference is that in the case of MSBP; the dependent child is forced to act disabled, while in Munchausen syndrome the person acts disabled in order to gain sympathy from other people. People with Munchausen syndrome even do self-harm just to make their disability seem real.
  • The children who are victimized by people with MSBP are mostly those that are under 6 years of age.
  • It was in the year 1977 when MSBP was first documented. The first-ever documentation of MSBP was an achievement of the English pediatrician named Roy Meadow.
  • MSBP was named after a German fictional character Baron von Munchausen, which was created by German writer Rudolf Erich Raspe. It is because the character of Baron von Munchausen loved making fake stories about his life experiences and achievements for the sake of getting the attention of the people.
  • Some caretakers put extra effort into making their dependent look really sick. Others even trigger the symptoms themselves just so the child will have them for real. Also, most people with MSBP love the feeling of being able to deceive those who are of high professions like doctors, other medical professionals, and those who work in law enforcement.
  • Based on research by Cleveland Clinic, they provided statistics wherein 1,000 out of 2.5 million cases of child abuse that are reported every year were due to Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
  • In most cases of MSBP, it is said that 85 percent of them are caused by the mothers of the children, while the remaining 15 percent may be from other people like a babysitter or nanny.
  • According to specialists, one of the main characteristics of people who develop MSBP is their craving and need for attention. Also, there are others who feel pleasure when they are able to deceive other people.
  • There is no discovered cause for Munchausen syndrome by proxy yet, but medical professionals think it is somehow connected to their previous experiences during their childhood (which may also be traumatic, making them cause pain to other children as well).
  • MSBP cases are prominent in most English-speaking countries, but these days there are reports of an increase in MSPB cases that happen in non-English-speaking countries.
  • Most of the people who are diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy works or used to work in health facilities. They are said to use their medical knowledge in order to properly conduct their plans. This helps them in using the correct terminologies and in making the symptoms seem realistic.

MSBP is a serious condition. Thus people should be aware of the signs that are possible to be seen when one has MSBP or if a child is being abused by a person with the syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms of MSBP

First, try to notice if these signs are present in the caretaker:

  • The caretaker is obviously seeking attention.
  • The caretaker is over-acting to appear too concerned for the child.
  • The caretaker has too much involvement with regard to the medical concerns of the child.
  • The guardian does not want to leave the child alone, no matter the situation.
  • The caregiver is always speaking for the child. When the child is asked questions; mostly by doctors to ask how they are feeling, the caretaker answers on behalf of the child.
  • The caretaker is ecstatic while in the hospital and appears to be satisfied whenever the child gets medical attention.

For the child, one must be aware if he shows the following signs:

  • The child is occasionally hospitalized and is most of the time injured and ill.
  • The child shows symptoms that are not related to the expected sickness or disability.
  • The child’s symptoms get better when he is hospitalized but they come back or get worse when the child gets home.
signs and symptoms of msbp

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