For some, hospitals are a daunting place that should be avoided at all costs. But there are many Munchausen syndrome stories out there that are from people who feel quite the opposite. Here is some basic information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this illness.
Richard Asher named this illness after an 18th century German aristocrat, Baron von Munchausen, who was known for making up impossible and crazy tales about himself. This is a psychological and behavioral illness where a patient comes in with a factitious disorder that either they have caused themselves or is completely made up. Along with their illness, they will give a long made up story of their medical problems. They may try and get a risky procedure done and could even possibly rig the test results. Asking for painkillers or other medication is also common.
They may arrive at the health center with a sickness that either they self inflicted or created in their minds. It is not uncommon to hear about pills that were taken to cause certain pain, wounds that were re-opened, or blood thinners that were swallowed.
The idea is that they will receive more attention and concern from people around them, even if they are not family or friends. They like to be looked after and be the center of attention. It is not about finding a way to skip school or get out of work for a few days, nor is it about any type of financial gain. It is simply, but not so simply, about the attention.
Finding the cause is different from case to case. Some may have come from homes where they did not receive attention from their guardians and have now found a temporary solution, while others may have a low self-esteem and have no other way to get attention. Perhaps though it is a personality disorder that has run in the family and has not been looked at medically. It may be a combination of various biological and psychological factors.
This is a very difficult illness to treat, but is extremely important as it is common for many patients who have this to cause self-harm. But because of the dishonesty of the patients, it may take many tests to come to the diagnosis. Doctors need to look at the medical history of the patient and see if it has inconsistencies on where the patient has been treated, what they have come in for in the past, and other irregularities. Some other ways of detecting this syndrome is to check and see if they have multiple scars from previous emergency surgeries,
Once the diagnosis has been made, most likely the patient will not believe the conclusion and, ironically as it is, will not want to go on any medication. By working with psychiatrists, there may be a solution over time, but more likely than not, they will continue living the life that they are familiar with. It is known to be a chronic illness.
This is not a very common disease, but it is very serious. There are many who provide Munchausen syndrome stories that are just that, stories. While it may be a hard illness to understand, it should be looked at and diagnosed as soon as possible. It leads to unnecessary self-harm and, for some, even death.
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