Munchausen By Proxy: Sick or a Trick?


What is Munchausen by proxy (MBP)?

Munchausen by proxy is a mental health problem in which a caregiver intentionally makes up or causes an illness or injury upon a person under their care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person with a disability. 

Victims are often young children. As a result, they often receive painful procedures or medical tests that they do not actually need. Through this process, the child may end up injured or very sick. Some children have even died because of the stress that the medical testing and procedures can put on their body. 

Not only can children get hurt physically, but can suffer long term emotional problems, including carrying the behaviors of their parents into adulthood. For example, an adult who suffered from Munchausen by proxy throughout their childhood and adolescence, may falsely report sickness or symptoms to a doctor. It is an extremely hard illness for one to accept, and is one that is extremely hard to grow out of because it is deep rooted into a child’s mind and it is all they might know. MBP qualifies as a form of child or elderly abuse, as the caregiver is intentionally exploiting and harming a vulnerable person. 

It is believed that caregivers who do this had a traumatic life where they lacked control over themselves, and thus, wanted to have control over their  victim. 

For this mental illness, there are no exact or reliable statistics. In the United States, many cases go undetected, however, it is estimated that around 1,000 cases are reported out of about 2.5 million. In addition, Munchausen by proxy is more often seen in women than men. 

Treatments/Preventative Steps

While there is not a known way to prevent this mental illness, there are ways to treat it. The most common form of treatment is psychotherapy. It mostly helps with the victims’ behavior, thoughts, and identifying feelings that may contribute to the way they think. 

Although there are steps for treatment, many victims do not believe that they are ill, therefore, they will try to reject the treatment. 

Munchausen By Proxy vs. Stockholm Syndrome (SS)

Do not get Munchausen by proxy and Stockholm Syndrome mixed up! While they may seem very similar at first, they cause the victim to behave in different ways. The main difference is that Stockholm Syndrome is not a psychological diagnosis, but rather the emotional aspect of a victim. Another major difference is that Stockholm Syndrome is a feeling of love or care towards one’s captor or abductor, whereas Munchausen By Proxy is caused by a caregiver or relative. While they do seem similar, as many victims of both MBP and SS deny they have this disorder, they are very different in their manifestations. 

Possible Behaviors of Munchausen By Proxy Perpetrators

There may not be many signs for the victims of munchausen by proxy,  but some caregivers may show similar behavior:

  • Having an extremely in depth knowledge of medical details
  • Is overly protective and concerned with their child’s health
  • Possibly fake their own illnesses
  • Gets overly angry at medical professionals if they say nothing is wrong with their child




  1. Syndrome by Proxy|Michigan Medicine.Available at: < (MSBP,child%20abuse%20or%20elder%20abuse.> Accessed 10 February 2022.
  2. Cleveland Clinic.2022.Factitious Disorder(Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy):What Is It & Symptoms.Available at: <,annually%20are%20related%20to%20FDIA.> Accessed 10 February 2022.
  3. Bhandari, S., 2022. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. WebMD. Available at: <> Accessed 10 February 2022.
  4. Newport Academy. 2022.The Facts About Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome | Newport Academy.Available at: <>Accessed 10 February 2022.