Clinical characteristics of the Munchausen syndrome. A review and 3 new case histories

Psychother Psychosom. 1989;52(1-3):164-71. doi: 10.1159/000288319.


The term Munchausen syndrome was introduced by Asher in 1951 for the description of patients who tell fantastic stories and deliberately seek repeated hospitalizations at different hospitals for simulated or self-induced acute illnesses. The syndrome has been repeatedly criticized and several other eponyms have been suggested. In DSM-III-R the designation chronic factitious disorder is used synonymously with Munchausen syndrome. On the basis of 3 new case reports and a statistic processing of literature case histories, this paper suggests that when using the original criteria by Asher, the syndrome constitutes a subtype of chronic factitious disorders, specially characterized by factitious illness, peregrination, pseudologia fantastica and dramatic admission circumstances. Further, most of the criticism of the syndrome may be a result of the great variability in definitions and diagnostic criteria used by different authors. Other clinical characteristics of the patients as well as psychopathologic and psychodynamic considerations are briefly discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Factitious Disorders / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Munchausen Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Munchausen Syndrome / psychology*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Readmission
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales