Munchausen syndrome by proxy: a study of psychopathology

Child Abuse Negl. 1994 Sep;18(9):773-88. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(94)00044-1.


Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (the fabrication of illness by a mother in her child) is often a serious form of child abuse that has been recognized increasingly over recent years. Approximately one-half of the mothers in this study had either smothered or poisoned their child as part of their fabrications. Lifetime psychiatric histories are reported for 47 of the mothers. Thirty-four had a history of a Factitious or Somatoform disorder, 26 a history of self harm, and 10 of alcohol or drug misuse. Nine mothers had a forensic history independent of convictions related to child abuse. Nineteen of these mothers were interviewed from 1-15 years after the original fabrications. The most notable psychopathology was the presence of a personality disorder in 17 of the mothers, which were predominantly Histrionic and Borderline types. Most subjects, however, met the criteria for more than one category of personality disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Mental Disorders / classification
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Models, Psychological
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy / epidemiology*
  • Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy / prevention & control
  • Personality Assessment