Medical child abuse (Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy)

Medical Child Abuse

Most experts in child abuse aware that there’s three forms of abuse:

  • Mental/emotional
  • Physical
  • Sexual

However, what many aren’t aware of is one of the most DEADLY forms of child abuse:

Medical child abuse.

Its most common form, and only formally recognized form of medical abuse, is that of “Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.” MSbP is a very serious — and often deadly– form of abuse whereby the parent, usually a mother, inflicts real or fake injuries and/or symptoms to her own child in order to gain attention or sympathy. (read this article for a primer on MSBP).

It’s deadly in that an estimated 10% of kids whose parent has MSbP dies as a result. In fact, it has been estimated by authorities on the subject that approximately 20% of children who are thought to have died due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) actually died from a parent with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

In my case, the issue that really stands out is that my son’s mother is never, ever thrilled when batteries of tests come back negative or he recovers from his many “illnesses.” However, when talking about his ailments, many of which are severe, she goes into graphic detail. Yes, we’re talking about a mother that literally gets excited about pulling my son out of school (100 days the past 2.5 years) for medical testing, check-ups, surgeries, etc. However, when away from her, does my son continue to have these supposed illnesses?

Nope. They’re virtually nonexistent when he’s with me, his Daddy.

So when talking about child abuse, it’s important to understand that there are five kinds, not three. And they’re all simply intolerable, as they’re harming the most innocent of us!

  • Mental/emotional
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Medical
  • Educational

About John

John Thomas Steinbeck is a parental alienation consultant. He and his son's relationship was under attack in a deplorable campaign of parental alienation. In this blog, John shares his insights, techniques, and tools in combating emotional child abuse. He did it-- today his son's love has been restored-- and you can too!
  • Thank you for writing about these issues. I used to write a lot about parental alienation and other issues surrounding divorce when I was the Divorce editor of but now I am out of that area.

    I am glad people are still talking about these problem. Thank you.

  • Dan Creed

    I feel your pain, my kids haven’t had a school year yet where they haven’t missed 10-20 days for the sniffles, or strep throat (with no fever, no vomiting, and a negative strep test)… Not my ex-wife is trying to convince everyone that my 11 year old daughter is majorly depressed.. she claims she cuts herself (but no one can find a mark on h er), and that she has attempted to hang herself with a scarf…. again with not a mark on her… The teachers at her school think my ex-wife is nuts, my daughter is getting straight A’s (in the gifted and talented magnate program), loves playing baskbetball, and softball, and is happy go lucky pretty much all the time…. magically of course NONE of the symptoms my ex-wife claims (everything from hearing voices, to uncontrolled screaming and crying) ever happens at my house, or at school, or ANYWHERE but at her house…. But the darn medical professionals out here are so slow to call a spade a spade even when the problem is staring them in the face….

  • tiffany

    What about when your child tell you these things are wrong

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  • Kat

    It is sad to know that there are so many mothers that get away with this form of abuse as the parent or caregiver appears to be so caring and attentive,when often no one suspects any wrongdoing and which knowing that they are hurting their own children by doing this to them to just gain attention for themselves. it makes me sick to even know that these kind of mothers even exist. The fact is there is so many of them out there and these poor innocent children are the ones getting punished for their mothers illnesses and in the end being brain washed to think they are the ones sick.

  • My Ex-Wife has been MENTALLY abusing my two boys for the last 5 yrs. How do i get a doctor to diagnose Munchhausen by Proxy on her or the kids so i can have that documentation to take to court. My boys are 11 and 9 and need to get away from their mother before it gets worse, Last school year they had 9 absences and 46 tardy s and barely past on to the next school grade, I need my boys with me and away from her!!!!!!!!!!!!!! dealing with BS in BAMA!!

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  • Coleen McCarthy

    Years ago my mother’s friend was constantly running to the doctor with her kids. I was friends with the 10 year old daughter and I was 11. She told my mother that her mother put paint chips in the spaghetti sauce she was going to give her. Of course, we thought that she was making this up or imagining it. A few years later my mother’s friend admitted to my mother that she did put paint chips in her daughters sauce and then started to laugh. My mother told me this and said I think Ann has Munchausen disease. You know talk shows were just starting to become big and these issues were discussed and then my mother formed her conclusion. Also, brainwashing is common. The mother managed to turn her youngest daughter against me! To this day this daughter says I belittled her. I never. did that. The older daughter at the time went to live with her grandmother. I bet there are a lot of records written up on this woman. To this day all her kids moved very far away from her so she would not be around their children.

  • AFC4LIFE Seamus

    so frustrated my x wife phoned to say my son has a migraine self diagnosis on the knowledge of a optician not the doctor the school wouldn’t allow him to come home god knows why if he was so unwell, but I have been notified by the school that my sons attendance is questionable unbeknown to me, there is a certain accountability regarding her ailments apportioning them to my son because it sounds good not being vindictive just easy to see it for myself I know my son and I also know my ex wife it worry’s me that he will grow up addicted to the medicine cabinet like her because she thrives on ailments illness