I am reading an old issue of Psychology Today (October 2007) and there is an article about Munchausen by proxy (MDP). The article defines it as when "a parent - almost always a mother - exaggerates a child's symptoms or actually induces illness so she can swoop in to the rescue, thereby gaining attention and a special bond with the child's M.D." It seems to be done mostly in order to "garner a doctor's love." The parent usually doesn't feel appreciated in their family of origin and is perceived as a "perfect" parent for caring for the child so much. MDP seems to be a way of parents validating themselves as people in the role of a parent through the eyes of someone they perceive as the epitome of child health care.
Apparently this syndrome is hotly contest among psychiatrists, psychologists and social service agencies. Some say it's widely unrecognized, others say the doctors wrongly accuse the parents based on their disagreement with their parenting skills concerning medical/heath care (particularly parents of children with hard-to-diagnose/treat illnesses so disagreements are bound to occur), and it's not really a syndrome. Controlled and blind studies apparently have never been done for this. I can't decipher a way to make such a blind study for this. Can anybody here? I think proponents look at case studies, behaviors by the parents, the coincidence of illness/sickness/pain in the child while with the parent, medical histories and put it together statistically. I don't think this is very scientific. However, I haven't read many psychology papers and so am not sure what the proper procedures are in defining and legitimizing a syndrome.
Has anybody ever experienced or known of a situation that could be MDP (if it exists)? Is there a general name for parents who use their children in order to gain self-esteem/validation? Can a parent who uses a child and their societies at their place of education (elementary school, middle school) in order to gain approval as a "great mom" or the "PTA approval" or something be diagnosed as something distinct, too? Or is MDP merely a separate syndrome because it abuses the child in a possible physical way or utilizes them in an inappropriate manner and causes the parent to lie/exaggerate pathologically? Why not just call it abuse, if it can be proved?
Hi, everybody! I hope everyone is doing well.