Munchausen syndrome is a psychiatric disorder in which those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. It is in a class of disorders known as factitious disorders which involve "illnesses" whose symptoms are either self-induced or falsified by the patient. It is also sometimes known as Hospital addiction syndrome.
In Munchausen syndrome, the affected person exaggerates or creates symptoms of illnesses in themselves in order to gain investigation, treatment, attention, sympathy, and comfort from medical personnel. The role of "patient" is a familiar and comforting one, and it fills a psychological need in people with Munchausen's. It is distinct from hypochondria in that the patient is aware that he is exaggerating, while sufferers of hypochondria actually believe they have a disease.
There is some controversy on the exact causes of the syndrome, but an increased occurrence has been reported in healthcare professionals and close family members of people with a chronic illness such as manic depression.
Individuals with the Munchausen pattern of behaviour may be admitted to many hospitals under many medical teams.
Origin of the name
The name derives from one Baron Münchhausen (Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Freiherr von Münchhausen, 1720-1797), to whom were ascribed a series of fantastically impossible tales written by Rudolf Raspe.
In 1951, Sir Richard Asher (father of Jane Asher and Peter Asher) was the first to describe a pattern of self-harm, where individuals fabricated histories, signs, and symptoms of illness. Remembering Baron Munchausen, Asher named this condition Munchausen's Syndrome. Originally, this term was used for all factitious disorders. Now, however, there is considered to be a wide range of factitious disorders, and the diagnosis of "Munchausen syndrome" is reserved for the most severe form, where the simulation of disease is the central activity of the affected person's life.
Comparison to Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII)
Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) is the formal name of a type of abuse in which a caregiver feigns or induces an illness in a person under their care, in order to attract attention, sympathy, or to fill other emotional needs. It is informally known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP), due to its similarity to Munchausen syndrome, in which a person feigns or induces illness in themselves for similar emotional reasons. While a person can be said to be "suffering" from Munchausen syndrome, it is incorrect to state that a caretaking person who perpetrates abuse is "suffering" from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
The two terms are frequently confused. One recognizable instance is in a song by rap artist Eminem, titled "Cleaning Out My Closet". The line from the song is:
The circumstance Eminem describes is not the illness Munchausen syndrome, but the type of abuse informally called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
Munchausen Syndrome in popular culture
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Every regional Police Force has its own website which contains information and advice about police activity in the area it serves. You can select your local force, or the force for another region below: However, you will not find any information as to how to report planning crime. If you do report a planning crime, the force you have contacted will write back explaining it is a civil matter, despite the criminal sanctions in the Town & Country Planning Act as amended by the Planning & Compensation Act. If you really push for a crime to be logged, they will tell you they do not have the resources and to take out a civil action. Clearly, this is a crime in itself as in R v Dytham and R v Bowden - failing to perform one's duty to uphold the law. Please also see the Police Act and Code of Conduct elsewhere on this site. Just click the links.
It appears the UK Police Service works alongside a number of Government organisations, masquerading as independents, to stifle planning crime and suppress public outcry. The best thing you can do if you recognise any of the symptoms, is to lobby your Member of Parliament for a change in the law. The Ombudsman, District Auditor and Office for the Supervision of Solicitors are all their to preserve the status quo, regardless of the ongoing injustice:-
Hammer Lane, Vines Cross, East Sussex, 3 March 2004
If you have experienced of or been witness to any untoward attention, why not contact the Chief Constable:-
Police Headquarters, Malling House, Church Lane
East Sussex, BN7 2DZ
Tel. 0845 6070 999
Fax. 01273 404263
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