Munchausen Syndrome

   Deliberately simulating medical or surgical illness in order to be admitted to hospital for an operation is a form of malingering, unlike involuntary addiction to surgery. (See HYSTERIA: Karl Menninger describes "polysurgical addiction" [1934].) The faking of illness is called Munchausen syndrome, after an anonymous pamphlet that appeared in 1785 in London, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was partly based on the adventures of the real Hieronymus, Count von Münchhausen, who in the service of the Russian army before 1760 achieved fantastic military and athletic feats. In 1951, Richard A. J. Asher (1912–1969),* a London internist affiliated with the Central Middlesex Hospital who had a special interest in mental disorder, suggested the term "Munchausen syndrome" in the Lancet for * Asher is also remembered for a 1947 paper in the British Medical Journal on "the dangers of going to bed," a warning to physicians against overprescribing bed rest. patients with fantastical medical stories who simulated illness in order to gain an operation: "The patient . . . is admitted to hospital with apparent acute illness supported by a plausible and dramatic history. Usually his story is largely made up of falsehoods; he is found to have attended, and deceived, an astounding number of other hospitals; and he nearly always discharges himself against advice, after quarrelling violently with both doctors and nurses. A large number of abdominal scars is particularly characteristic of this condition" (p. 339).
   In 1977 in the Lancet, (Samuel) Roy Meadow (1933–), a pediatrician at a child hospital in Leeds, proposed "Munchausen syndrome by proxy" for parents who falsely reported that their children had a variety of fantastical illnesses. He assigned it to "the hinterland of child abuse." Sir Roy, as he later was knighted in 1997, achieved national prominence for the observation that, "one sudden infant death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder, unless proven otherwise." This gained him a reputation for being particularly severe in assessing multiple crib deaths in one family.

Edward Shorter. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Münchausen syndrome — For feigned mental illness, see Malingering. Factitious disorders Classification and external resources ICD 10 F68.1 ICD 9 …   Wikipedia

  • Munchausen syndrome — Infobox Disease Name = Munchausen syndrome Caption = DiseasesDB = 8459 DiseasesDB mult = DiseasesDB2|33167 ICD10 = ICD10|F|68|1|f|60 ICD9 = ICD9|301.51 ICDO = OMIM = MedlinePlus = eMedicineSubj = med eMedicineTopic = 3543 eMedicine mult =… …   Wikipedia

  • Munchausen syndrome — noun syndrome consisting of feigning acute and dramatic illness for which no clinical evidence is ever found • Syn: ↑Munchausen s syndrome • Hypernyms: ↑syndrome * * * ˈmənˌchau̇zən , ˈmünˌ , ŋˌkau̇ , ŋˌḵau̇ , ˌ ̷ ̷ ˈ ̷ ̷  ̷ ̷ noun or munchausen …   Useful english dictionary

  • Munchausen syndrome — (This is an alternate entry to Munchhausen syndrome with two h s in Munchhausen. Whole medical reports have been written about the Munchausen syndrome incorrectly written with one h.) Recurrent feigning of catastrophic illnesses, a psychological… …   Medical dictionary

  • Münchausen syndrome — (This is an alternate entry to Munchhausen syndrome. Münchhausen has an umlaut over the u but it is sometimes written as Munchhausen without the umlaut in English.) A recurrent feigning of catastrophic illnesses, a psychological disorder that is… …   Medical dictionary

  • Munchausen syndrome — /ˈmʊntʃhaʊzən ˌsɪndroʊm/ (say moonchhowzuhn .sindrohm), /ˈmʌntʃ / (say munch ) noun a syndrome in which a person pretends to be ill in order to be admitted to hospital or to obtain extensive medical investigations and treatment. Also, Munchausen… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Munchausen syndrome — noun Etymology: Baron K. F. H. von Münchhausen died 1797 German soldier and proverbial teller of exaggerated tales Date: 1951 a psychological disorder characterized by the feigning of the symptoms of a disease or injury in order to undergo… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Munchausen syndrome — Psychiatry. a factitious disorder in which otherwise healthy individuals seek to hospitalize themselves with feigned or self induced pathology in order to receive surgical or other medical treatment. [1950 55; named after Baron von MÜNCHHAUSEN,… …   Universalium

  • Münchausen syndrome — noun A psychiatric disorder in which those affected feign illness or psychological trauma in order to garner attention or sympathy …   Wiktionary

  • Munchausen syndrome — disorder in which an individual pretends to have certain symptoms in order to be admitted into a hospital or undergo various medical tests …   English contemporary dictionary

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