Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: a severe and sick form of child abuse

[TRANSCRIPT]

What is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy? Very briefly, it’s a rare form of child abuse where a caretaker, usually a mother (statistically speaking), takes a child into the medical system, doctor’s offices and clinics, and fakes or feigns or makes up symptoms. The child is not sick or just has a small symptom and they drum it up, they outright make up lies to say the child has this, the child has that. Overtime, one of the symptoms of this type of abuse is a child is in the hospital all the time, and lots of different doctors. This parent goes doctor surfing. I’ve seen this all by the way, firsthand, and I’m speaking from experience and from what I’ve also learned with books and on the internet and on Youtube.

It’s a really, really sick form of child abuse because it flies in the face of everything a parent with a conscience is supposed to do. You are supposed to want to help your child. You don’t want them in the hospital. That’s what so twisted about this form of child abuse is the Munchausen parent wants the child in the hospital, and when the child is suffering, guess what? They are okay with that. Does that sound like a normal type of parent to you? No, it’s a really decrepit form of child abuse. Fortunately it’s rare but I’m talking about it because a lot of people in the child protective care system, the guardians, ad litems, judges, lawyers, doctors, they don’t understand this form of child abuse.

Here is why though, in their defense, the reason they don’t understand it is because their thought is, “Why would a parent bring a child in and make up things that aren’t true? Nobody wants their child in a hospital.” That’s how these Munchausen parents are able to dupe the system, is because they take advantage of that. By the way, a little side note, but it’s an important one, why do these parents do this? One reason, attention. It’s a really evil form of, it’s an evil act on the child. The payoff for the parent is getting attention. They get attention from the doctors. They get attention from nurses who go, “You are such a caring parent. Look at you. I can’t believe you are going through that.”

You and I can’t understand this but it exists. It’s out there more than what the literature that I read about says. It’s much more common than the books I read, and the literature I’ve read on it talk about. I’ve seen it, I have a friend that saw it, my sister is very intimately acquainted with this from things she’s seen as a nurse. It’s out there but sadly the professionals just don’t know about it. Let me give a couple of telltale signs. These are signs that happened to me, this can help you in your situation, if you are thinking this might be happening to your son or daughter or lover. First of all, these parents like to doctor shop, they don’t just go to one doctor over the course of three five years, with a little Johnny or a little Suzie.

No, they go a lot. In my case it was well over a dozen doctors by the time my son was twelve. Also your son or daughter, this kid that we are talking about has lots and lots of medications. My son at one point had over nineteen prescriptions that fell over eighteen months. It’s insane, yet when my son was with me, guess what? During extended periods of time, he was healthy. There is nothing wrong with them, yet when he went back to mother, guess what? He’s back in the hospital again. One quick example, during summer, I got him weaned off of miralax, which is a constipation medicine to help with constipation. I weaned him off of it with good, basically good eating. Fibrous foods, lots of foods with roughage and I weaned him off it, and I was proud of that I let mom know that.

She was not happy with that, guess what? The very next week, my son was back at the doctor’s office. Guess who suggested that he get put back on miralax? This doctor. Again, I don’t think this doctor, this doctor was just duped, he didn’t know better, the other thing is, what doctor wants to stand up to a mother or father who is saying, “Hey, little Johnny or little Suzie has X, Y or Z.” Here is probably the biggest tip off to Munchausen parents, it’s the fact that they are not happy when the child is healed or when the child is recovering or fixed. Most parents would be like, “Yes, finally, we don’t have to come back to this stupid hospital.” They are the opposite, they’ll bring a child back for more. In fact, very frequently they will dial it up.

They will actually take exaggerated symptoms and say, “No, this is not what the child needs, they need this, this and this.” How would they know? That’s because they are frequently nurses themselves. Munchausen  parents are frequently coming out of the medical profession themselves. That’s all upside, this form of child abuse really if you think about it, it’s all upside down. Everything that looks like X, there is no way it could be anything as actually Y or Z, it’s really strange. I just wish more people knew about this form of child abuse.

Here is another interesting thing is, Munchausen parents know details, they know about medicines, they know about detailed medical procedures. They will stand up and say, “No, my son, my daughter needs this. My son, my daughter needs that.” They take an active role in basically taking over the medical care and suggesting that these are the meds that he needs, here is the procedure that he needs or that she needs. Again, that’s one of the reasons they go doctor shopping because a lot of doctors will say, “You know what? No, I don’t see it that way.” Munchausen parents can get very upset and that’s why they go and doctor shop.

The age of the children, this is important, usually in the vast majority of cases that I’ve studied, and this kind of makes sense, is this happens to children under the ages of eight approximately. In other words, this is not done very often to sixteen year olds. Why is that? It’s because a sixteen year old knows his or her body enough to go, “No, what are you talking about? I’m not sick, I don’t have the symptoms that you are claiming that I have. What are you talking about? No I’m not going to a doctor, I’m definitely not going to take these meds. Really, do you think I need this type of invasive procedure?”

It’s usually done on younger kids under the age of six. That is the pattern, and let me sum up real quickly, the pattern of the Munchausen parent. The parent is not happy when the child is fixed, the doctor shops. It’s not uncommon for a dozen different doctors over a dozen different years that the parent has gone to. They are very frequently in the medical profession themselves, the most common profession for a Munchausen parent is a nurse. Details, they know a lot of details about medicine and especially about drugs.

The last one that I haven’t talked about yet is the child misses a lot of school. In my case, my son missed fifty days full or partial in one particular school year that this all was going on. That’s another telltale sign. If you add up all this together, it points towards a parent that’s got Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. What are the solutions? You know what? I’m not a doctor, I’m not in the legal profession, but the best solution is really is to remove that child from that home. How? I don’t know, please give me your thoughts and feedback in the comments below in this video.

I don’t know, as short of removing that, clearly this is, I think we’ll all agree, this is an abusive home where this happens. We’ve got to remove the children from that home. How to do it, short of putting video cameras in every single clinic and every single doctor’s office around America? I really don’t know. That’s in a nutshell this form of abuse. It needs, the awareness needs to get out there that this exists. Right now, sadly, a lot of people that are supposed, that are tasked with protecting children whose parent fail them don’t know about it. That’s what I’m doing with this video. I’m hoping to spread awareness of it, and please share in the comments sections, please, please, please.

Share in the comment section your experiences, if you’ve been this child who’s had to deal with this stuff. Please add onto what I’m talking about here today and tell us what are the symptoms, what are the kind of things that they did to you and how did you recover, and what are some of tips you can give us to help teach other people? Once I get, once those fall in, I would love to do another video sharing insight and maybe some really effective tips or strategies to try to counter this really wicked form of child abuse. Thanks for watching.

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!
  • gdbwithus

    Hello, I don’t see a date as to when you posted your article above or the video you posted either. I’m hoping you are still involved with dealing with Munchausen By Proxy! I was a victim of such abuse. I believe my case may be somewhat rare as my parents, although they were both physically and mentally abusive througout my childhood, finally went to the extreme when I was 22 yrs old. I was in college at the time, experiencing anxiety as I was unhappy with my education/career aspirations, my social life and had just left my job of 3 yrs. Several months prior, my father had given me an ultimatum to either see a psychologist (because I had expressed my contempt for him!) or move out. I was not financialy capable at the time, so I opted to see a psychologist — naturally he selected the one. That proved to be unsuccessful, as my father insisted on coming to a session and the therapist aligned with him. I finally managed to find a place to live, but after a few months that living situation fell through and I had no other option, but to move back with my parents, temporarily. It was the early 80’s at the time — unlike today, limited resources available — the internet was not yet invented! I told my parents I was having difficulty sleeping and it was obvious I was depressed. My father again sought “help” for me, a psychiatrist, head of a psychiatric hospital and insisted I see him. Upon my first viisit, with my parents present, without much assessment — few questions asked –the psychiatrist determined I needed to be hospitalized, my diagnosis “Bipolar.” This illness was “new” at the time (DSM approx. 84) and I had no idea what that meant. I was held on a 72 hr hold, for what reason I had no idea. A board of drs. reviewed my case and following a brief interview, I was released and returned back to my parents care. Within a few days my mother insisted I was still “sick” and asked a friend of mine to help her (physically dragging me into her car) drove me back to the hospital.. I was there for 2 wks. This time I was given medications for my “illness”. My parents whose mairrage was always unstable, bonded together at this point. They told me how they were heartbroken that I was mentally ill and that they cried together as they prayed I would be ok. To assure I take my medications, My father administered them to me each day and night. From that point on, I guess you’d say, I was brainwashed to believe I needed them. And my parents were content as they now had reason for people to pitty them — their daughter is mentally ill. That diagnosis (and stigma!) followed me for 32 yrs. It’s been a long hall, with doctor after doctor prescribing medication (never reassessing) as I fully believed I NEEDED these drugs, or I’d lose my mind. I recently went back to one of my original doctors who treated me for 17yrs — A psychopharmacologist who was involved in with Big Pharma as they were developing many of the psychotropic drugs available today — per his request, I even partook in a study for Abilify! (I recently researched “https:/projects.propublica.org/docdollars/ — he earned $110,127 for 2yrs consulting with a pharmaceutical company). He now “re” assessed me and my diagnosis; “Anxiety & Depression”! And said I would have to be on antidepressants for the rest of my life due to the fact that my parents are Holocaust Survivors! To say that the whole mental health system has gone corrupt would be an understatement. And that my parents are severly mentally ill…. I told my parents about my “New Diagnosis” and just as expected, they refused to believe me and insist I am lying. “Deprogramming” and believing I am NOT mentally ill was at first overwhelming. Titrating off of these poisons is not easy! What keeps me strong and able to breakthrough, is the fact that I have a lot of support from my loving Husband, children and friends. I’m writing a book about my life experience now. If you can imagine, it’s been quite unique. I had heard of Munchausen By Proxy, but didn’t realize I had been a victim of such abuse and brainwashing — never thought it applied to me! I’d like to keep apprised of your involvment… Please contact me at your convenience if you are! spresnick@hotmail.com