By Anupum Pant
If you’ve paid enough attention to House MD, then you probably know about this really interesting mental disorder called the Munchausen syndrome. If you don’t, well, let me give you a crash course on Munchausen and the plot of that episode of House MD which deals with this disorder. But remember, this article isn’t just about Munchausen syndrome. If you think Munchausen is interesting, you’ll be amazed to read about what this article gradually moves on to discuss – a much more interesting (or better call it disgusting) disorder that is closely related to it – The child abuse mental disorder.
Season 2 Episode 9 of House MD and the Syndrome
From IMDB: At a betting parlor where House happens to be, a woman collapses and House makes sure she gets to the hospital. He thinks she has Cushing’s syndrome while Cameron starts to think she has Munchausen syndrome.
Munchausen syndrome: It is a mental disorder in which the patient fakes an illness to draw attention. Some other times, they just do it to gain sympathy or to get admitted to hospitals. This is the reason it is also called a hospital addiction syndrome or hospital hopper syndrome.
To fake illnesses these patients go to the extent of consuming harmful substances, or some times they go as far as, studying in detail the medical details of an illness, to produce certain symptoms that would confuse doctors and would result in their long vacation at hospital. They sometimes do it consciously, other times they don’t even realize that they are doing it to themselves.
Munchausen is completely different from the silly fabrications or exaggerations of symptoms that children or adults make to get access to financial compensation, absence from work, or access to drugs. It is a mental illness.
Sometimes this problem can go deeper and worse.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy
In this, the person does not use himself/herself to gain attention or sympathy. They use a proxy. Most times, parents go as far as inducing symptoms of a disease in their child. This variant of Munchausen is indeed considered as child abuse.
If a mother is affected by a mental illness like this one, she would for instance, drug her kid in a way that he/she starts throwing up, or starts having some other symptom. They might also resort to other evil or dangerous tricks that would make their child appear sick.
Once the child gets admitted at the hospital, such parents often try deceiving the hospital staff by being helpful or faking great devotion or self-sacrifice towards their kid at the hospital. In such cases it gets really tough for the doctors to suspect the diagnosis of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Being close to the child at hospital helps the “actual patient” – the one with the mental illness – in two ways. One, by gaining the sympathy of the hospital staff. Other, by getting access to the kid to induce further symptoms in order to make the illness last longer. As a result, they get attention and sympathy of others for a longer time.
Think about it. A mentally ill parent harming their own child and inducing them with life-threatening diseases just to gain attention. How disgusting is that!
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