Münchausen syndrome is a term for psychiatric disorders known as Factitious disorders wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. It is also sometimes known as hospital addiction syndrome or hospital hopper syndrome.
Münchausen syndrome is related to Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP/MSP), which refers to the abuse of another being (typically a child) as a result of having a psychological disorder.
In Munchausen syndrome, the affected person exaggerates or creates symptoms of illnesses in themselves or their child/children in order to gain investigation, treatment, attention, sympathy, and comfort from medical personnel. In some extremes, people suffering from Münchausen’s Syndrome are highly knowledgeable about the practice of medicine, and are able to produce symptoms that result in multiple unnecessary operations. For example, they may inject a vein with infected material, causing widespread infection of unknown origin, and as a result cause lengthy and costly medical analysis and prolonged hospital stay.
Illnesses and conditions commonly feigned by Münchausen patients
- Acid reflux
- Anxiety disorder
- Back pain
- Bipolar disorder (manic depression)
- Cushing’s Syndrome
- Dissociative identity disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Heart disease, heart attack
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Kidney disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sexual abuse
- Spousal abuse
- Suicidal ideation or suicide attempt