Munchausen Syndrome (cont.)

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What causes Munchausen syndrome?

Although there is no specific cause for Munchausen syndrome, like most other mental disorders, it is understood to be the result of a combination of biological vulnerabilities, ways of thinking, and social stressors. Little is known about the specific biological risk factors from which individuals with Munchausen syndrome are more likely to suffer. Psychologically, sufferers of this mental illness may have an increased need for control, an imbalance in the level of self-esteem (either low or excessively high), and a tendency to suffer from depression, anxiety, or substance-abuse disorders. Personality traits of individuals who have a history of feigning or inducing symptoms in themselves include some that are in common with borderline personality disorder (for example, if the person dissociates or has another disturbance in their identity/sense of self; has unstable relationships, recurrent instances of self-mutilation, and/or experiences recurrent thoughts or attempts at suicide) or antisocial personality disorder (for example, a tendency to lie, disregard the safety of themselves or others, and to have little empathy for others).

Risk factors for people with Munchausen syndrome include:

  • enduring a significant negative event (trauma) during their childhood (such as a serious illness of themselves,
  • a close family member or friend), having a grudge against the medical profession or having been themselves the victim of neglect,
  • physical or sexual abuse, or other forms of childhood maltreatment.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/14/2015

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