by Marjorie Tietjen
There is an alarming trend emerging, involving our medical system and child protective services, to label many very well meaning parents with a behavioral disorder called Munchausen By Proxy. This accusation towards the parents or parent often results in the removal of the children from their homes.
The basic definition of Munchausen By Proxy (MBP) is when caretakers intentionally cause harm to a child in order to gain attention for themselves.
Some of the "claimed" symptoms or identifying characteristics of this syndrome, which I would like to address, are:
1. Perpetrators are usually mothers and most often are considered well intentioned normal parents.
2. They are usually liars and deceivers and are extremely convincing.
3. They usually deny any maltreatment of their children.
4. They change health care providers frequently.
5. Perpetrators may have a history themselves of malingering.
6. Relationships between caretakers and child appear to be excellent.
7. Alleged perpetrators often have no history of child protection intervention.
8. Often seek attention from a variety of people
9. Must be considered more dangerous once they are suspected.
10. Perpetrator causes harm to child to gain attention. This can also mean psychological harm, which can be very subjective.
The above are only some of the requirements for a MBP diagnosis, which I found at the MBP Basics website. http://www.mbpexpert.com/definition.html
The following are two factors this website lists in order to confirm a diagnosis of MBP.
"1.) Proof through direct or circumstantial evidence that the suspected perpetrator has deliberately exaggerated and or fabricated and or induced a problem (physical and or psychological - behavioral - mental health) regarding another person and.....
2. rationale that the behavior is consistent with MBP maltreatment rather than something else."
This doesn't sound very scientific to me. It sounds like guessing and opinion. This website also mentions that there is no mental health test or evaluation which can rule out MBP. This statement could be very useful for those who are pushing for an MBP ruling.
MBP is an extremely rare disorder but is currently being greatly overused as an excuse to promote different agendas. Recently I attended a Hearing, which involved Lyme disease. The possibility of MBP was brought up and the witness for the defense, who happened to be a prominent psychiatrist, testified that MBP is indeed very rare and that great care should be taken when labeling people with this diagnosis.
We need to look at what segments of the population are being selected for the diagnosis of MBP. Parents who are going through divorce and parents who have children with the ill defined or misunderstood diseases, such as Lyme disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia (among others) appear to be especially targeted.
Many of these diseases have no objective signs that a doctor can put his finger on. How can one prove that they have a headache, that their stomach hurts, that bright lights and loud noises really bother them? How does one expect a doctor to take you seriously when you tell them that you have what feels like brain cramps or that your brains seems as if it is sloshing back and forth within your skull?
I would just like to interject here ...that Lyme disease has been officially mentioned as an excellent candidate for a biowarfare agent and is currently being studied as one. Biowarfare documents tell us that effective biowarfare agents are microbes, which cause symptoms in many different parts of the body. This is considered an important attribute for a disabling biowarfare agent because it makes the patient seem as if he is malingering or faking. The patient is not taken seriously, the disease is ignored, most of the time left untreated, and allowed to pass through the population unchecked.
Another admired attribute of a biowarfare agent would be the lack of accurate testing for the disease. Lyme disease, what we call Chronic Fatigue syndrome and Fibromyalgia fit these criteria extremely well. The U.S Army patented a certain strain of mycroplasma, called mycroplasma fermentens. The patent discusses the diseases that this microbe will be found in..... such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Sarcoidosis, Alzheimer's, etc. (Pathogenic Mycoplasma", US patent No. 5,242,820, issued September 7, 1993.)
The point I want to make is that the Army knows that this mycroplasma is pathogenic, knows what syndromes it is found in and realizes very well the symptoms involved. Why are these symptoms not being taught to our doctors? Why are patients who have these symptoms being told it is all in their heads or that the children ill with these symptoms are being made sick by their mothers?
I have spoken to several psychiatrists who feel that MBP is a wastebasket diagnosis and is being attached to patients by doctors who are ignorant of the diverse symptoms, which present in these emerging diseases. Doctors are not encouraged to find a "real" diagnosis. The medical system appears to be training the doctors to see these symptoms as a form of depression, hypochondriasis, MBP, etc.
Ask yourself.... why is this epidemic of MBP suddenly sweeping the nation? If one subscribes to the idea that this state of affairs is actually occurring then what is the reasoning behind it? I don't believe the explanation that is often glibly given, which is...Oh that problem was always around; it was just that nobody recognized it. Maybe it is a fast spreading contagious microbe causing this alleged rampant psychosis? Of course it is mostly women who seem to contract this possible causative agent. Men appear to be mostly immune.
I would suggest that we are actually experiencing the cover-up of a silent epidemic, an excuse to take children away from their homes in divorce and child custody cases and there may also be profits and vested interests involved. Some people believe that the government is trying to create more of a socialistic regime where children are more or less raised by the state. The Federal Government gives states extra money for each child who is removed from their homes. It's also been said that schools are given extra money for each child that is put on Ritalin.
I would like to leave you with some thoughts in regards to the list of identifying characteristics of MBP. Perhaps the suspected perpetrators are often considered well intentioned and normal because they are well intentioned and normal. What normal parent would not fight for an organic diagnosis of their child and go from doctor to doctor trying to get help...to get someone to actually listen to them?
Many parents also have Lyme disease or one of these other labels and know that the physical symptoms their child is experiencing are real and perhaps they are suffering from the same disease as their parent or parents. It was said that sufferers of MBP are often liars and deceivers. Perhaps that is just the perception of the doctor who can't find anything wrong with the child through lab testing.
The parents probably deny maltreatment of their children because they do not maltreat them. The MBP suspect may also have a history of malingering because as I mentioned they may have the same disease as their child. The website also mentioned that the relationships between parent and child often appear to be very healthy and normal. Well, again, maybe it is because they do have a healthy relationship.
Concerning the characteristic of the perpetrator seeming more dangerous after supposedly being found out...If you were a mother and you knew your child was ill with a degenerative disease, tried to get the child help and then was told you were causing your child to be sick...wouldn't that make you very angry and perhaps even hysterical? What a position to be in!
The seventh characteristic in the list describes how alleged perpetrators often have no history of child protection intervention. Why do you suppose that is? I would say it was because child protection was never needed.
In one article it was mentioned that 9 to 37% of children involved in suspected MBP, die. Doctors who are knowledgeable about these emerging, hard to test for diseases, have witnessed children die due to lack of treatment for the disease the mother was trying to get help for. Once the children are removed from the home, they no longer have an advocate to push for the medical treatment that they often so desperately need.
I think it is about time we investigate and start blaming the corporate perpetrators instead of innocent mothers, many of whom are also sick with the same disease that their child is afflicted with. How tragic and shameful it is to blame the victims.
Here is a testimony on a Lyme message board concerning this subject
Another family's experience http://www.personalconsult.com/articles/munchausenlymeparent1.html