What is Münghausen syndrome and how it harms children

Family 2023

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What is Münghausen syndrome and how it harms children
What is Münghausen syndrome and how it harms children

Munchausen Syndrome is a rather dangerous disorder that is difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to believe. But these stories actually happened and almost cost the children their lives. And in one of the stories, a mother lost her life, having tortured her daughter for many years for the sake of an incomprehensible benefit.

Why do parents treat he althy children? Three stories about Munchausen syndrome
Why do parents treat he althy children? Three stories about Munchausen syndrome

Several years ago, the whole country learned the story of 11-year-old Valera Kondaurov from Magadan. The boy's adoptive mother, Lyubov Korotkova, brought him to Moscow to be examined at the Endocrinology Research Center. According to the woman, the child had serious digestive problems, which is why at 11 years old he weighed only 11 kilograms.

Employees of the center suspected something was wrong and turned to the Ombudsman for Children. The investigation found that Valera was kept half-starved for ten years and given a laxative in order to present him as an invalid. According to the prosecution, in this way Korotkova sought to receive benefits and payments. Valera was transferred to a new guardian: in a few months he added 10 kilograms. And Lyubov Korotkova was taken into custody.

Many saw in Korotkova's behavior signs of Munchausen's syndrome - a mental disorder in which a person finds symptoms of illness in himself or a child, when in fact there are none.

13 he althy baby surgeries

Such people are also called "professional patients": they skillfully pretend, exaggerate, or themselves cause symptoms of a non-existent disease in themselves, seeking to be provided with medical care, up to real operations. Psychotherapists emphasize that Munchausen's syndrome is not a disease, but only a simulation disorder.

This “Munchausen” has ready answers to all the arguments of doctors, and it is often easier for doctors to give in and provide unnecessary help than to understand a confusing medical history.

Even more dangerous is the “delegated” Munchausen syndrome: when a person attributes non-existent symptoms not to himself, but to a child or anyone under his care. Often such children are “treated” for years. One of the latest cases was opened quite recently: in December last year, the court forbade American Kaylyn Bowen from approaching her children.

Her son Christopher was hospitalized about 300 times in his eight years of life, underwent 13 (!) different surgeries and all this - being a perfectly he althy child. Cailin was divorced from the boy's father and never left him a son, assuring him that he could not cope with caring for the "disabled person". A few months before the revelation, Cailin went too far: she announced that Christopher had cancer and began to raise money for treatment.

When the oncologists studied the boy's tests, they realized that he was absolutely he althy - and the tangle began to unravel. As a result, the father, who had been seeking the opportunity to see his son for several months, received full custody of the baby.

“Mothers who cause illness in children often suffer from a lack of communication and understanding, often unhappy in marriage. Some also suffer from other mental disorders. The vast majority (up to 90%) were themselves subjected to physical or mental abuse in childhood,”explains the nature of the Munchausen syndrome, psychiatrist Gleb Pospelov. There are cases when normal and delegated Munchausen syndrome occur in humans at the same time. So, a woman named Hope (her last name was not indicated in all publications at the insistence of her family) for many years tried to recover from cancer herself, and to cure her youngest daughter from cystic fibrosis.

When Hope announced to her mother for the third time that the tumor was growing again, they went to the funeral home so that the doomed woman herself could choose wreaths for her funeral. And the doctors at that time could not find the history of her illness and previous treatment. When Hope's mother joined the search, she found the medical filing boxes empty. Together with the doctors, she put the question to her daughter point-blank, and she confessed that all these years she had not been ill with anything. After that, the grandmother insisted on an immediate examination of her granddaughter - and, of course, no cystic fibrosis was found in her.

It turned out that Hope deliberately infected her daughter with harmful bacteria, and also periodically pumped out her blood to show signs of anemia.

Total addiction

In both cases, the children were lucky to have close relatives who suspected something was wrong. Gypsy Rose Blanchard had no one but her mother. From childhood, the girl grew up in the belief that she could not walk, eat normal food, breathe without an oxygen mask. When asked what happened to her daughter, Dee Dee Blanchard gave a whole list of diagnoses: muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, asthma, vision problems, and in early childhood, Gypsy suffered from leukemia.

The woman actively used the help of charitable foundations, often took the girl to rehabilitation and treatment courses, willingly told her neighbors about it. She dressed and treated Gypsy like a little girl, explaining to those around her that she had the intelligence of a small child. All her life she shaved Gypsy bald, forcing her to wear wigs. To avoid uncomfortable questions, she often talked about her daughter's medical records being lost during the hurricane.

Everyone who knew Dee Dee thought she was the perfect mother. Therefore, when one day a message appeared on her Facebook page, “This bastard is dead!”, People immediately raised the alarm. Dee Dee's body was found in her bedroom - she had been dead for several days. The daughter was not in the house - unlike her wheelchairs.

The results of the investigation amazed everyone who knew the Blanchard family. Firstly, Gypsy turned out to be older than her mother imagined - she was 19 years old, and not 14 at all. Secondly, everything turned out to be in perfect order with her mental and physical abilities. Gypsy spent her childhood in the belief that she was really seriously ill. Having matured, she began to think about whether all the manipulations that her mother subjected her to were really necessary. She wanted to date a guy she met on the Internet, visit friends - but Dee Dee forbade her to do all this.

As a result, Gypsy created a fake social media account and used it to correspond with her lover, discussing the plan to kill her mother, which they eventually implemented.

Gypsy went to jail for 10 years, her boyfriend faces a life sentence as the direct perpetrator of the murder. For a year in prison, the girl recovered by 6 kilograms and never got sick with anything. “It seems to me that she would be the perfect mother for someone really sick. But I'm not sick. And that makes a big, big difference,” Gypsy says of her mother.

One of the problems that experts point out when talking about Munchausen's syndrome is the lack of regulations governing such situations. It is possible that Lyubov Korotkova's main goal was not fraud at all - but it is almost impossible to find out for sure.

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