munchausen by proxy syndrome

We’ve heard a significant number of cases this year of mothers torturing and even killing their children for attention on social media. Most recently, Candy Flutin was found guilty of making her son ill by putting faeces into his IV drop while he was in hospital and has received six years in jail. The attention that she gained from posting updates of scans, tests and surgeries to her 2000 plus Facebook friends, motivating her to go further and keep her son ill by performing such disgusting things.

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Earlier this year, a Lacey Spears was charged and sentenced to 20 years in jail for killing her six year old son by slowly poisoning him with salt. Her motivation? A blog detailing her son’s journey through illness and disease, with social media supporting her through hard times, that she in fact had caused.

Now it’s time to talk about it. Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome is a mental disorder in which a parent, most commonly the mother, causes harm to their children for the attention that it gains for them, and the gratification they receive from that attention. Related to Munchausen Syndrome, a condition in which a person harms themselves or feigns illness for attention, Munchausen by Proxy is carried out on the unknowing, helpless child. Many children have lost lives and have become debilitatingly ill at the hands of their own parents, gaining sympathy and attention from those around them.

With the rise of social media, it’s much more accessible to gain support from people who comment or like posts in a show of ‘kindness’. Munchausen by Proxy is a diagnosed mental illness which is thought to possibly develop from the perpetrator being abused physically or sexually as a child.

Assessing our mental health and those around us is important for the health and safety of everyone, but especially children who are the sponges that we create and help to grow. We could never imagine that a loving parent would put their child through something so cruel, meaning it is also hard to know if this is happening to a child. With the rise of social media and less time in person, we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. Doctors and nurses can suspect the mental illness if they are continually testing a child and finding no causes for their illness, however, it is obviously difficult to pin point.

Diagnosis of Munchausen by Proxy is considered rare and can be extremely difficult  because of the attentive caring that the parent or caregiver is portraying, but realistically, it’s child abuse. If you suspect that someone you know is suffering from Munchausen by Proxy, it shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Image via parentinghub.co.za