Munchausen Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View the Phobias Slideshow Pictures

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
VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Munchausen Syndrome - Signs and Symptoms

    What were your signs and symptoms associated with Munchausen syndrome?

    Post
  • Munchausen Syndrome - Diagnosis

    Please describe the events that led to a diagnosis of Munchausen syndrome.

    Post
  • Munchausen Syndrome - Treatment

    What kinds of treatment have you, a relative, or friend received for Munchausen syndrome?

    Post
  • Munchausen Syndrome - Causes or Risks

    Do you have any risk factors for developing Munchausen syndrome? What do you think were possible causes?

    Post View 2 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors