What is Munchausen Syndrome?

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munchausen syndrome is now known as factitious disorder as of the release of the DSM 5. Munchausen was named after the Baron Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Freiherr von Münchhausen, a German Cavalry Officer who was known to tell outrageous tall tales based on his military career. Those with Munchausen go from medical provider to medical provider dramatically presenting very plausible symptoms and histories of a physical illness and receiving care, up to and including hospitalization or surgery.

Patients with munchausen syndrome will often fake a variety of symptoms of a physical illness and manipulate laboratory tests to achieve abnormal results. Some of the tricks they use include swallowing blood then entering an emergency room and throwing up, pricking a finger and putting blood into a urine sample, and injecting insulin to drop their blood sugar. Some may go so far as to swallow foreign objects such as fishhooks or nails.

munchausen syndrome What is Munchausen Syndrome?

What is munchausen syndrome? Patient’s with Munchausen fake physical illness and are frequent visitors to Emergency Rooms.

While the cause of Munchausen is unknown, it is thought that an attempt to gain sympathy may be part of the cause. Approximately 50% of those with Munchausen Syndrome are subject to drug abuse and are classified as “med seekers,” and many also have borderline personality disorder. The disorder generally starts during early adulthood, but may begin as early as childhood in some.

The disorder is closely related to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy which involves the abuse of another person, typically a child, by creating an illness through poison or some other method.

Derek Wood is a Nationally Board Certified Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse, and holds a Master's degree in Psychology. His experience in the online arena of mental health can be traced back to 1997, when he was a host for Online Psych on AOL. He joined Get Mental Help, Inc. as Clinical Content Director for Mental Health Matters. Derek, with his wife Lisa, developed the original version of psychTracker (then called A Mood Journal), after his diagnosis with Schizo-Affective Bipolar, when they could not find a system available that was robust enough to help him effectively manage his symptoms and accurately interpret his charting. Derek has worked in the field of mental health since 2001, as a Unit Manager of an adult long-term treatment facility, a charge nurse in an adolescent short-term inpatient facility and long-term residential facility, and as a School Psychologist. He has also written several articles which are being used as CEU for nurses and educators.

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