Author(s): Schreier HA, Libow JA
Munchausen by proxy syndrome is a condition in which a mother pretends her infant or child is ill or causes the infant or child to be ill in order to engage in an intensely ambivalent but often destructive relationships with a physician. Despite appearances to the contrary, evidence indicates that the infant serves as little more than an object to regulate this relationship. The harming of the child takes place in a fully conscious nonpsychotic state and is a by-product of the dynamics of this relationship. We see the mother's actions as an example of imposturing good mothering. Physicians are susceptible to these mothers in ways that lead them to delays in uncovering these dynamics that can have disastrous consequences for the infant. Social and interpersonal forces that contribute to the unfolding of this syndrome are worthy of our study.