Munchausen syndrome is described as a fictitious mental disorder in which a person pretends to be sick by exaggerating false symptoms. Similarly, another person may lie about sickness of another individual under his or her care, a condition commonly known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Common victims of adult perpetration are children under the age of six years and the concept is internationally viewed as abuse of children (Cleveland Clinic 1). This research paper gives a detailed analysis of the Munchausen syndrome featuring symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention among others.
Munchausen syndrome is an example of a fictitious disorder which is either generated or self-induced. These disorders can either be psychological or of physical depending on an individual. It is regarded as one of the most severe manifestation of fictitious disorder. According to psychologists and other scholars, Munchausen syndrome is not easily treated and although medical attention is always important in preventing extreme injuries or even death which may result from chronic conditions (Mayo Clinic Staff 1).
It is important to note that Munchausen syndrome mainly revolves around false manifestation of illness among people as away of meetings certain psychological needs. Since most victims never discover the cause of their deception, it is usually difficult to notice that manifested symptoms could be part of a fatal disorder (Cleveland Clinic 1). Due to the complexity of this order, there are several symptoms manifested by victims and these may vary from an individual to another.
Dramatic narrations about imaginary health problems are common. This is aimed at convincing the public and those around that in deed the person is sick. Frequent hospitalization is also common even though doctors may not diagnose anything serious (Mayo Clinic Staff 1). Another common symptom observed is inconsistency in manifested symptoms. As a result, different tests give results that are neither related nor show any similar pattern.
Consequently, the conditions may worsen for no reason causing the patient to go for advance medical procedures. Unlike other genuine patients, people suffering from Munchausen syndrome are always eager to for risky operations and avail themselves for numerous laboratory tests and medication from different medical centers.
Moreover, such people avoid visitors and would expect very few people to call on them while in hospital (Mayo Clinic Staff 1). They further ensure that medical experts do not interact with visitors and family members. Last but not least, Munchausen syndrome patients constantly ask for alternative medication and pain relievers even when they are feeling well.
The exact cause of Munchausen syndrome remains unknown to medical practitioners around the world. Even as researchers continue unraveling the truth behind the causes of this disorder, it is believed that Munchausen syndrome affects people who may have suffered a severe illness in their childhood or may have experienced some physical or emotional abuse (Cleveland Clinic 1).
Other arguments suggest that Munchausen syndrome occurs as a defense mechanism against certain impulses of aggressiveness and sex. It has also been thought to be a form of self punishment imposed by individuals upon themselves.
Social problems which result into extreme levels of stress have also been blamed for this disorder. While these efforts remain focused on discovering the root cause of Munchausen syndrome, it is important to note that most people affected with fictitious disorders are never honest when being assisted, thus making it hard for psychologists to identify causal effects (Cleveland Clinic 1).
As mentioned in the above segment, Munchausen syndrome may occur as a result of a previous experience or traumatizing event in an individual’s life. These predisposing factors put several people at the risk of developing fictitious disorders in future. Personality disorders which affect mental stability of a person may increase their possibility of developing the disorder (Mayo Clinic Staff 1).
Another risk factor is the unfulfilled dream of becoming a medical expert. It is believed that people who set unachievable goals of becoming medical practitioners have a higher tendency of developing Munchausen syndrome. Above all, it is worth noting that the risk factors for this disorder vary and that there are no specific predisposing factors listed by psychologists.
People affected with Munchausen syndrome usually experience emotional imbalance to the extent of risking their lives to become sick and seek unwanted medication. Besides multiple disorders associated with this class of patients, they are likely to suffer a myriad of complications some of which may be fatal or cause permanent health problems (Cleveland Clinic 1).
Psychologists affirm that Munchausen syndrome can cause death in severe cases that result in bodily injuries and faked medical conditions. Victims also suffer injuries, pain and wounds emanating from major surgeries and other dangerous medical procedures conducted to correct non-existing conditions. In relation to these procedures, patients may end up losing their body organs or limbs as medical practitioners struggle to correct an amorphous medical condition.
In addition, Munchausen syndrome results into financial crisis as a lot of resources are used up treating an exaggerated illness which may take a lifetime to heal. Due to frustrations and unfruitful efforts, patients may resort to drug and substance abuse as a way of draining their sorrows and frustrations (Mayo Clinic Staff 1). The ultimatum of all this is a life full of problems which may include strained family relationships, inability to work and the likelihood of becoming a social misfit in the family and in the wider community.
Treatment is generally difficult because of the unknown cause. As a result, no specific therapies have been developed for the treatment of this fictitious disorder. It has to be double emphasized that people with this disorder never wish to seek proper medication (Mayo Clinic Staff 1).
It is therefore advisable for family members and people with close links to approach them politely in order for them to understand the need for better medication. Treatment of this condition mainly focuses on correcting conditions being manifested other than dealing with the entire problem. This treatment basically encompasses behavior counseling and psychotherapy. Medication may also be applied to deal with other health disorders. Psychiatric hospitalization is usually advised for cute cases.
There is no universal prevention method known to deal with Munchausen syndrome. It is therefore upon parents and individuals to guard against major predisposing factors which children and other members of the family could be exposed to. Proper treatment of chronic diseases is essential for all family members.
Exposure to trauma and stress should be minimized or eliminated to maintain a stable mental health. Lastly, young people need to be advised on setting realistic and achievable goals in life to avoid future frustrations arising from unfulfilled dreams and ambitions (Ciccarelli and White 455).
From this research analysis, it is more evident than not that Munchausen syndrome has no cure, no known causes and no therapy. As a fictitious disorder, it has posed challenges in its treatment. Maintaining good mental health is imperative in staying safe from Munchausen syndrome.
Ciccarelli, Saundra, and White Noland. Psychology: An Exploration. Toronto: Pearson Education, Limited, 2009. Print.
Cleveland Clinic. Munchausen Syndrome. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 2010. Web. 26 October 2011.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Munchausen syndrome. Mayo Clinic, 2011. Web. 26 October 2011.