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The_Ink_Goddess
07-20-2010, 12:16 PM
I'm planning out a YA in which the MC's mother has Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, and it's kind of...spread to him, in that he's starting to harm himself medically to keep her attention. It all comes to a head when his eight-month-old brother disappears, and he has to figure out if this is another of his mother's cries for attention, or if he's actually gone missing. But I'm struggling in the medical area. I know very little about medicine, and whenever I try to Google-fish for something, I end up with a) a major info-dump or b) something that zigzags out of nowhere. So I need help. Can anyone think of some relatively simple ways of making someone ill in a way that would produce conflicting lab results etc. (common in MSbP). Also, does anyone have anything to share? Just...things they've read, interesting tidbits, things you wouldn't expect, anything that could help. :)

GeorgeK
07-20-2010, 01:33 PM
In residency we had a paraplegic patient who'd end up in the hospital regularly with strange infections that were assumed to be from bed sores. He'd had all sorts of surgeries for them and every specialty had ruled out other sources for his infections. The day before discharge he'd always spike a high fever extending the work ups and hospital stay. One morning I came in to do rounds a bit early and inadvertently caught him. He'd unscrew one of the ports on his central IV line and spit in it. I don't know if the ports are unscrewable any more, but munchausen can certainly lead to some whacked out behavior.

It's called secondary gain, i.e. the benefits that they perceive from being sick, attention, change of environment, someone to talk to, etc.. In the proxy setting it's probably the initiator wanting to be perceived as a hero or a martyr, but it's still secondary gain.

maggi90w1
07-20-2010, 02:12 PM
I remember a documentary where a mother broke her daughters bones with a hammer and later poured coffee in open wounds so they wouldn't heal.

shaldna
07-20-2010, 03:36 PM
There was a made for tv movie about this with shelly long. It was pretty good considering.

Lyra Jean
07-20-2010, 05:10 PM
One of the characters in "Sixth Sense" has Munchhauser's syndrome by proxy.

I heard that once accused of it and taken to court the person will lose. Because if they show emotion and that they are sorry for their actions it is only the syndrome to gain attention. Where if they don't show any emotion it means that they did hurt the victim on purpose to gain attention.

Said The Sun
07-20-2010, 05:24 PM
I remember a documentary where a mother broke her daughters bones with a hammer and later poured coffee in open wounds so they wouldn't heal.

Christ. But will that work on ex-husbands too?

askcb
07-20-2010, 05:37 PM
Darin Strauss, More Than it Hurts You was about a mother who was bleeding her baby. Don't know if that's helpful :) It got pretty mixed reviews but I thought it was a good book.

Celia Cyanide
07-20-2010, 05:54 PM
Eminem's mother was believed to have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. he talks about it in the song "Sorry Mama" from the movie 8 Mile.

backslashbaby
07-20-2010, 06:45 PM
I know somebody who was diagnosed with it. She didn't eat anything with viatmin C and gave herself scurvy. She seemed to think scurvy sounded normal (yet very attention-getting) in this day and age.

BillTrain
07-20-2010, 07:25 PM
Depending on how sick you want him...mixing blood into a urine sample. The son wouldn't get sick, but he'd wind up getting a lot of extra testing while the doctors tried to figure out what was going on.
-BT

stormie
07-20-2010, 07:30 PM
I know somebody who was diagnosed with it. She didn't eat anything with viatmin C and gave herself scurvy. She seemed to think scurvy sounded normal (yet very attention-getting) in this day and age.
That could be Munchausen's Syndrome, not Munchausen's By Proxy.

Jersey Chick
07-20-2010, 07:34 PM
Waaaay back (I mean, like late 80s back) there was a true crime book called From Cradle to Grave about a woman who murdered 8 of her children (and one adopted child) through Munchausen's by Proxy, and how she almost got away with it. She was finally tried and convicted of at least one of the murders and AFAIK, is still in prison in upstate NY.

Lyra Jean
07-20-2010, 08:14 PM
Waaaay back (I mean, like late 80s back) there was a true crime book called From Cradle to Grave about a woman who murdered 8 of her children (and one adopted child) through Munchausen's by Proxy, and how she almost got away with it. She was finally tried and convicted of at least one of the murders and AFAIK, is still in prison in upstate NY.

I think they used that to create a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode.

backslashbaby
07-21-2010, 04:32 AM
That could be Munchausen's Syndrome, not Munchausen's By Proxy.

It was, yes! I thought we were talking about both :) Sorry.

shaldna
07-21-2010, 12:01 PM
I think it;'s a terrifying thing, especially looking at it from the POV of a mother. I just can't understand why anyone would or could do that to a child.

I can sort of understand people who do it to themselves, but to put someone else through that. That's scary.

Celia Cyanide
07-21-2010, 08:30 PM
Yes, it's really weird. They enjoy the sympathy they get for having a sick child.

I had a friend whose mother always moved her around from school to school because she enjoyed the sympathy she got when she told her friends that she had a bad kid and had to pull her out of school. But my friend didn't act up in school at all. Her mother just pretended she did. I thought that sounded very similar, but I wondered if there was a name for that, too.

gracemichael
07-22-2010, 07:16 AM
I work in the legal field and have actually assisted in successfully prosecuting a mom for this.

The perpetrator is usually female. She will usually come across to doctors and nurses as very caring and involved. Many times, the perpetrator has pretty good amount of medical knowledge and she can impress doctors with her knowledge.

Most times, the child improves while at the hospital but the symptoms reappear as soon as the child is back at home and/or left alone with the perpetrator. For example, a mom who rushes the baby/child to the hospital several times because he or she has stopped breathing but she or he doesn't stop breathing while in the hospital.

Also, a little tidbit for your book - many children's hospitals have special rooms for when doctors are suspicious that a child's injuries might be caused by this disorder. The room is equipped with a hidden camera with a video camera running. That way, the mom can be caught in the act for prosecution reasons.

Libbie
07-24-2010, 02:59 AM
Mercury poisoning certainly causes some interesting symptoms, but it can be very hard to diagnose. It's also not terribly hard to put enough mercury into a child's environment to make them ill -- the household chemicals that have high enough levels of mercury to sicken a kid are easy to get.

Mayfield
07-24-2010, 05:43 AM
One of the Jonathan Kellerman books was about Munchausen by proxy...Devil's Waltz, I think? Baby was injected with fecal matter and pus. Okay, it was pretty damn awful (not the book...the subject was hard to read about), but the book goes into the syndrome in a lot of detail, so it could be a good resource.