Munchausen Syndrome is a severe and chronic factitious disorder where a person repeatedly acts as if they have a sickness or injury by creating false symptoms. The syndrome is named after an 18th century German officer, Baron von Munchausen, who created tales about his life and experiences.
People that have Munchausen syndrome lie about symptoms, injury themselves to bring on symptoms, or alter diagnostic tests. Indicators of this syndrome are: dramatic and inconsistent medical history, unclear and uncontrollable symptoms, willingness to undergo medical tests, procedures and operations, and a presence of multiple surgical scars. Also, people with Munchausen generally have an extensive knowledge about medical practices and terminology, and hospitals.
An exact cause to this syndrome is unknown but several theories say that emotional and physical abuse early in life and identity problems or unstable relationships may cause people to seek the attention provided from creating false symptoms. Another cause of Munchausen could relate to a severe illness from childhood or having a severely ill relative during childhood.
There are no clearly effective treatments for those who suffer from Munchausen but generally recognizing the disorder early to put an end to risky testing, surgery, or unwarranted drug use is the first step in treatment. Next the patient generally receives psychiatric or psychological consultation that focuses on changing the thinking and behavior of the person. Because there are no clearly effective treatments it is more realistic to work towards managing the disorder rather than trying to cure it.