Signs a parent is projecting Munchausen by proxy onto the child
Munchausen by proxy, also known as factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA), is a rare form of child abuse in which a caregiver (usually a parent) deliberately makes a child ill or fabricates symptoms in order to seek medical attention for the child. In some cases, the parent may also exaggerate or cause symptoms in themselves in order to draw attention to their child's illness and gain sympathy or praise for their caregiving abilities.
Co-parents who engage in Munchausen by proxy typically suffer from a borderline or narcissistic personality disorder and have a deep-rooted fear the child may one day leave them for the other parent. In order to make sure the child never abandons them, they need the child to be dependent upon them so the child never becomes too independent from them. This hinders the child’s ability to develop confidence and mature in an emotionally healthy way.
Additionally, Munchausen by proxy makes the child feel like something is always wrong with them and they need to stay with their parent in case they get ill. This creates anxiousness in the child thinking they are always sick or can’t manage life without the approval of their parent. The relationship between parent-child becomes enmeshed and unhealthy. The older the child gets and the more independence they may attempt, the stronger the illness the parent may create within the child.
It's important to note, Munchausen by proxy may be used as an attempt to alienate the other parent from the child's life.
If you suspect that your co-parent is projecting Munchausen by proxy onto your child, here are some signs to look out for:
The child has frequent and unexplained medical problems or symptoms that seem to disappear when the parent is not around.
The parent seems overly interested or invested in their child's medical care, and may resist efforts by healthcare professionals to involve other caregivers or specialists in the child's treatment.
The parent may have a history of seeking medical attention for themselves or others and may have a poor relationship with healthcare providers.
The parent may be overly protective of their child and may resist efforts by others to spend time with or care for the child. In other words, they may create alienation and say the child is sick in order to not spend time with the other parent.
The child's symptoms may be inconsistent with known medical conditions, or the parent may report symptoms that are difficult to verify or seem exaggerated.
The parent may appear to enjoy the attention or sympathy that comes from having a sick child or may seem to be using the child's illness to control or manipulate others.
It's important to note that these signs alone do not necessarily mean that a parent is engaging in Munchausen by proxy. If you are concerned about a child's well-being, it's important to speak to someone with a psychological background, like ourselves, healthcare providers, and an attorney if it is impacting your parent-child relationship.
If you suspect your co-parent is making your child ill, contact us.