Munchausen Vs Munchausen By Proxy: What's The Difference?

Munchausen and Munchausen by proxy are factitious mental disorders. There is no definite understanding of what causes these conditions, but there have been factors associated with those who exhibit Munchausen, some of which include childhood trauma or neglect. The disorder is quite rare, and according to Better Health, the treatment for the condition is geared more toward managing symptoms rather than curing the disorder.

Munchausen syndrome is wherein a person falsifies or greatly exaggerates an injury or illness to benefit themselves in different ways, such as getting sympathy or financial help from those around them (via Cleveland Clinic). In some cases, those who have Munchausen deliberately hurt themselves. Diagnosing the disorder entails thorough investigation. Medical professionals look into the motivations behind actions, as well as concrete evidence of fabrication or exaggeration of symptoms. Other illnesses and explanations are also ruled out before a diagnosis is made.

Treatment for Munchausen's can be quite difficult, as those who have it refuse to accept the diagnosis. Psychiatrists are often involved in treatment plans and therapy when a person is willing to cooperate.

Munchausen by proxy explained

Munchausen by proxy, on the other hand, is when a caregiver exaggerates illnesses or causes injury to those under their care — in most cases the person being a child or an elderly person. In Munchausen by proxy, the caregiver may lie to others about symptoms, physically harm the person under their care, or fabricate medical tests to suggest illness, as reported by the University of Michigan Health.

One of the most popular stories of Munchausen by proxy is the case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Gypsy Rose was raised alone by her mother Dee Dee, and she was brought up to believe that she suffered from multiple illnesses, including asthma, leukemia, and a multitude of other ailments. She was confined in a wheelchair, and DeeDee shaved her head to make her appear as though she lost her hair to cancer. In 2015, Gypsy Rose's boyfriend murdered Dee Dee in her sleep, as reported by Metro. It was later revealed that Gypsy Rose was the victim of Dee Dee's Munchausen by proxy. Her mother gained sympathy and got donations from those around them who were made to believe that Gypsy Rose was sick. Medical tests showed that Gypsy Rose could walk and that she didn't suffer from the illnesses her mother said she had.

Just like Munchausen, Munchausen by proxy is treated with psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.