Munchausen Syndrome

CrazyRedHead

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Muchausen Syndrome By Proxy - a personal anecdote

When I was a paediatric nurse in an Oregon hospital in 1987, I witnessed the development of a MSbP case against a patient's mother.

This woman (I believe in her 30's) had a mysterious illness which caused her to vomit continually. She eventually had a surgery called "Nissen fundoplication" to treat her alleged gastro-esophageal reflux.

A short time thereafter, her infant son began vomiting often, got the same diagnosis, and was given the same surgery.

After her son's surgery, the woman's teenage daughter started vomiting frequently. She (the daughter) was admitted to my hospital for tests. Someone noticed that the girl only vomited after Mum brought her a treat from home. Some of the vomit was sent to a state lab for toxicology tests, and it was found to be heavily contaminated with ipecac -- an over-the-counter medication used to induce vomiting in case of accidental poisoning.

I was at work when the police showed up and put the mother in handcuffs.
I don't remember how much jail time she was given -- but I hope she went away for a long time!
:twisted:
 

auroraisit

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A sucide attempt and while I was in hostipal a trainee doctor released I had a mental illness and helped me out. But without meds I am a completly differant person at times not even remembering things I have done. :roll:
 
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auroraisit: I'm glad to hear you got the help you needed even though it took some dark times to get there.

nikoteen: Good to hear things are still working out well for you. :)

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Why didn't they spot the flaws?

Sir Roy Meadow has been vilified for his 'expert' evidence in three baby death cases. But there is growing disquiet that the courts didn't do more to question what they heard. By Clare Dyer

Tuesday June 21, 2005
The Guardian

When Professor Sir Roy Meadow retired in 1998, the senate of Leeds University passed a resolution extolling the career of this "major figure in national and international child health". One of Britain's most eminent paediatricians, he was a distinguished academic knighted for his achievements, first president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health which he had been instrumental in founding, discoverer of a rare form of child abuse which he named Munchausen syndrome by proxy but which many dubbed simply "Meadow's syndrome".

No wonder the crown rushed to sign him up as an expert when parents were charged with killing their own babies. His credentials were unrivalled and he was a most persuasive prosecution witness, skilled at getting his points over simply and memorably to the jury.

He must wish now he had persevered with his original interest, treating children with kidney diseases, and had never branched out into child abuse. His reputation is in tatters, the tag "discredited" almost always attached to his name. Sally Clark, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, each convicted of killing two babies partly on his evidence, have been dramatically freed after their convictions were ruled unsafe. Any attempt by the crown nowadays to call Meadow as a witness would, as Michael Mansfield QC put it in his opening statement in Cannings' successful appeal, have to come with a health warning.

Today, 72-year-old Meadow, who has kept a low profile amid the vituperation heaped upon him, will appear before the General Medical Council to answer a charge of serious professional misconduct. But is he solely to blame for what went wrong? After Cannings was freed, some newspapers reported that the judgment on her appeal had spurred the attorney general to trawl through hundreds of cases in which Meadow's evidence had helped put a mother behind bars. Not so: the cases under scrutiny were all those where a parent or carer had been convicted of killing a child but where experts were in dispute and there was no other cogent evidence. Many did not involve Meadow at all. Where he did give evidence he was just one of an array of prosecution experts.

Munchausen syndrome by proxy, the bizarre form of child abuse in which carers, usually mothers, fabricate, exaggerate or induce symptoms of illness in their children to gain attention for themselves, has been dismissed by some of the media as a theory dreamed up by Meadow. Yet few child protection specialists doubt that MSBP, now rebranded as a "factitious or induced illness", actually exists, though it is undoubtedly rare. Mothers have been covertly recorded on videotape interfering with their children's breathing and some have eventually admitted making up or bringing on symptoms in their healthy children. The leading children's hospital, Great Ormond Street in London, sees 10 to 12 cases each year.

The GMC will not, as one tabloid promised last week, "investigate his ... child abuse theory of Munchausen syndrome by proxy". It will not look at his role in the Cannings case nor in that of Trupti Patel, who was swiftly acquitted by a jury of killing her three babies despite Meadow's evidence, or other cases, such as that of Donna Anthony, in which his testimony helped to secure a murder conviction. The GMC is accusing Meadow of straying beyond his expertise and giving erroneous statistical evidence in Sally Clark's case about the small chances of two cot deaths in a family like hers.

At the time, a government-funded research team, the Confidential Enquiry into Sudden Death in Infancy (Cesdi), was about to publish a new report. The jury was shown a table from the Cesdi report which showed a one-in-8,543 risk of cot death for a baby from a family where the mother was over 26, at least one parent was employed and neither was a smoker - a family, in other words, like the Clarks. To work out the risk of two cot deaths in such a family, Meadow told the jury, you would multiply 8,543 by 8,543 to reach a risk of one in 73 million. With 700,000 live births a year in England, Wales and Scotland, it was an event that would happen by chance "about once every hundred years".

The evidence was clearly wrong. It took no account of any possible genetic predisposition or any unrecognised environmental factors. The risk for a family which has already had a cot death is not the same as for a family which has never had one. If two cot deaths are so extraordinarily rare, what is the point of the Coni (Care of Next Infant) programme, designed to minimise the chances that a second infant might die like its sibling? The reality, as a study published last December in the Lancet found, is that second sudden infant deaths in the same family are much more likely to be from natural than unnatural causes. And, as the Royal Statistical Society later pointed out, the proper exercise would be to compare the chances of two cot deaths with the chances - also rare - of two murders in the same family.

There were no statistical experts in the Clark case, and the defence did not raise any objection to the evidence at the trial. Meadow later admitted: "I did not explain the limited significance and I regret I didn't. But in court, it was not a defining moment."

By the time the case first went to the appeal court in 2000, however, it was obvious that seriously misleading information had been put before the jury. The statistical error formed the main plank of Clark's first appeal. But the appeal court refused to allow evidence from statistical experts, arguing that it was "hardly rocket science". The three judges acknowledged that Meadow's evidence was incorrect, yet decided it was of "minimal significance" because there was an "overwhelming case" against Clark at her trial and the jury would still have convicted even without the misleading statistic. It was not until after the first appeal that Clark's legal team discovered that the Home Office pathologist Alan Williams had failed to disclose microbiology results on their second baby, Harry, raising the possibility of a death from natural causes. But surely there was an obvious danger that the jury, faced with the task of disentangling conflicting expert views about the significance of complex postmortem findings, would have seized upon the simple clarity of "one in 73 million". The judges who heard Clark's second appeal thought so. Although they quashed her convictions because of the failings by Williams, they said Meadow's error would have been enough to make the conviction unsafe.

Why weren't the flaws in the use of cot death statistics in murder cases picked up years ago? Meadow is not the only expert witness to have cited them, nor is Clark's the first case in which they were before a jury. In Donna Anthony's case, seven years ago, Meadow and another expert told the court that the chances of two cot deaths in a case like hers were one in 1 million - the main reason her conviction for killing her two babies was quashed last April, although the judges pointed out there was other "cogent and disturbing" evidence against her apart from the medical evidence.

But as the Commons science and technology committee noted last March in its report on forensic science, while Meadow has been almost universally vilified, lawyers and judges - who might have been able to prevent miscarriages of justice but failed to do so - have escaped criticism. Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the inventor of DNA fingerprinting, told the committee he was amazed that the flaws in the statistical evidence were "not tracked right at the beginning". It was, he said, "a failure not only of the experts but also of the courts".

The whole saga, the committee concluded, was nothing less than a "systems failure".
But the failings go much deeper and wider than the use of dubious statistical evidence. The Clark and Cannings cases, and the "shaken baby" cases now being heard in the court of appeal, have exposed just how uncertain, given the state of scientific knowledge, is the task of diagnosing whether a baby was smothered or shaken. The problem has been compounded by cursory postmortems where deaths were not thought suspicious at the time. Yet some experts have been willing to pronounce themselves certain where, in reality, no certainty exists.

The royal colleges for pathologists and paediatricians are implementing reforms to try to minimise the risk of miscarriages of justice - skilled investigations and postmortems for every sudden infant death, insisting on training for expert witnesses, trying to firm up the evidence base on the signs and symptoms of abuse. But judges and lawyers must do their part too. As part of their witness training, doctors will be told "that it's very important not to stray beyond your level of expertise, to be aware of what your level of expertise is, and not to be pushed by pushy barristers into being more certain than you want to, given the evidence that you have," explains Sir Alan Craft, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. "That's been a big problem in the past, that lawyers have said, 'Come on, doctor, you can be more certain than that, that's not very helpful to us.'

"Doctors shouldn't be flying kites unless they say they are flying kites. And the judiciary should know that they have actually got to question where expert witnesses get their opinions from."
www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1510870,00.html

Ultimately I suppose a few rogue scientists is an easier explanation than the collapse of the whole system - what amases me is that the defence never thought it worth tearing the expert witnesses to pieces.
 
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A look at the misuse of stastics that occured here:

Vital statistics

Ben Goldacre
Thursday June 23, 2005
The Guardian

Talk about bad science

· Of course, the past two years of Bad Science was nothing more than a cover for the "popular statistics" lecture series I really wanted to give, but knew I could never sell to a newspaper. So, on to Professor Roy Meadows and Meadows' Law, that: "One sudden infant death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder until proved otherwise." Pay attention: flaky statistics can get you jailed, or erased from the GMC register if you're not careful. Meadows said the likelihood of there being two sudden infant deaths in the same family was one in 73 million. People are queueing up to point out that the Royal Statistical Society said this aspect of the case involved flaky reasoning. Nobody in newspapers was geeky enough to explain why.

· Welcome to my world. This is an example of a common error of reasoning known as "prosecutors' fallacy". It rests on creating a figure erroneously, and then applying it erroneously. First, let's take where the 73m came from. Meadows appears to have taken a figure for sudden infant death syndrome (Sids), about one in 8,500, and squared it to find the likelihood of Sids happening twice in the same family. This would only be valid if we could be sure Sids always happened by chance and independently of family factors such as genetics and environment. In fact, there are strong reasons to believe that there are, unknown, genetic and environmental factors which will make Sids more likely in any child, and since genetic factors and environment tend to be shared in families, you may be more likely to find Sids twice in the same family than the initial calculation suggests. The error in the figure 73m is therefore likely to be extremely large, and in one direction only, that is, overestimating. The true figure may be much less incriminating.

· The real action is in how we use this inaccurate figure. Press reports at the time said 73m to one was the chance the two deaths of Clark's children were "accidental". The court appeared to concur. But this was an error. A very rare event has already occurred: the unexplained death of two siblings. What the jury ought to have considered is: which is the more likely rare event, double murder or double Sids? If anything we want the relative probabilities. The original case did not consider this; if it had, you would have thought a conviction to be less likely. The appeal court ruling accepted flaws with the figure, but said it established "a very broad point, namely the rarity of double Sids". Scream now.
www.guardian.co.uk/life/badscience/stor ... 28,00.html
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Man gets 16 years for strangling partner

By Nick Clark
July 08, 2005
From:


A LAUNCESTON man who strangled his partner after an argument over the future of the couple's children was sentenced to 16 years in jail yesterday.

Alan Cecil Tyne, 32, pleaded guilty to murder and was set a non-parole period of eight years from the date of the crime in December 2003.

"Particularly because of his sound antecedents but also having regard to the background and circumstances of the crime I have concluded that he should become eligible for parole after having served half his sentence," Supreme Court Justice Ewan Crawford said.

He could be free in 6½ years.

The court was told the dead woman, Kari Lesley Boyd, told Tyne during an argument he would never see their three children again.

Justice Ewan Crawford said the woman had been diagnosed with Munchausen by proxy, a syndrome in which she deliberately made one of her children suffer illness or injury.

"There is evidence that she caused brain damage to the child by suffocating him and there is reason to suspect that she may have harmed a another child, a girl,"
he said.

Justice Crawford rejected a plea on behalf of Tyne that he had been provoked.

On the night of the murder the woman had invited Tyne to her home for tea and drinks.

"They each drank a considerable amount of alcohol. She had a blood alcohol reading of 0.25 when she died," he said.

After they went to separate rooms she had approached him and an argument ensued.

Tyne had flown into a rage and suffocated her by holding his hand over nose, squeezing her throat and holding a pillow over face.

"In all it is likely that it took at least 30 seconds and more likely closer to three minutes because of a lack of blood supply to the brain before she died," he said.

"He intended to kill her."

"I accept that he suddenly lost control and killed her in a violent rage."

Justice Crawford said Tyne had admitted in a video recorded interview with police that a similar incident happened in January 2003.

He had been charged with rape and assault and bailed upon condition that he not contact her.

However, she had invited him to her home in the Launceston suburb of Newstead.

"She could be very frustrating and probably was at the critical time," Justice Crawford said.
www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,15859177-1244,00.html
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Justice for Roy Meadow

I was just reading this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4679113.stm

Roy meadow has been found guilty after his lies led to women getting wrongly convicted of murdering their children.

I hate it when respected (??) people tell lies which wrongly convict others just to further thier own careers.

Send him down....
 

WhistlingJack

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He's been struck off :) Now, is there any chance of him being banged up..?

Sir Roy Meadow struck off by GMC

The General Medical Council has struck off paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow after his "misleading" evidence in the Sally Clark case.


The GMC announced on Friday that Sir Roy had been found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Sir Roy had stood by his evidence, but admitted his use of statistics at Mrs Clark's 1999 trial was "insensitive".

Mrs Clark was convicted of murdering her two sons, but she was exonerated after an appeal in 2003.

Frank Lockyer, Mrs Clark's father, who brought the case, broke down in tears as he responded to the verdict.

"The GMC has applied the ultimate sanction to the doctor who played such a huge part in my daughter's conviction.

"Now perhaps we, as a family, can put the last seven years of hell behind us and move on."

The chair of the GMC panel considering Sir Roy's case said it was vital the public had confidence in the experts brought before the court and that was why he had to be struck off, rather than a lesser penalty.

During the trial, Sir Roy said the probability of two natural unexplained cot deaths in the family was 73 million to one.

The figure was later disputed by the Royal Statistical Society and other experts have said that once genetic and environmental factors are taken into consideration, the odds are closer to 200 to one.

The GMC ruled on Wednesday that Sir Roy did not intend to mislead in evidence he gave at Mrs Clark's trial.

However, members of the disciplinary panel decided his overall evidence was misleading and that he "erroneously implied" that two deaths in a family would be independent of one another.

Mrs Clark was eventually freed after it become apparent that another witness at her trial, pathologist Alan Williams, had failed to disclose key medical evidence.

Giving evidence, Sir Roy defended the calculations he used to arrive at the 73 million to one figure.

But he said he regretted comparing the odds of two cot deaths in the same family to that of a punter successfully backing an 80-1 shot at the Grand National four years in a row.

Sir Roy also gave evidence as an expert witness in the trials of two other women, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, who were both freed on appeal after being convicted of murdering their children.

Angela Cannings described the GMC decision as "fantastic" news, and called on Sir Roy to apologise.

"It is recognition for what he did wrong to us as a family, what he did wrong to the Clark family, what he has done wrong to all those other families."

George Hawks, solicitor for Donna Anthony, said he was surprised at the GMC's decision, and that his client would be too.

"She is not vindictive. She just wanted him to acknowledge he had got it wrong in her case and offer her an apology."

The hearing had heard testimonies from leading paediatricians in support of Sir Roy, who retains a great deal of respect within the medical profession.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/07/15 14:23:43 GMT

© BBC MMV
 
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And yet questions remain:

Dilemma for doctors in field where science offers few answers

The distinguished career of Prof Sir Roy Meadow yesterday came to a humiliating end but difficult questions remain about how cases of suspected child abuse are identified and dealt with. Health Correspondent Mike Waites reports.

CHILD abuse was only formally recognised by doctors 40 years ago and has remained a field clouded by controversy ever since.

Partly this is because it is difficult for people to come to terms with the fact that it occurs – that adults, often mothers, physically injure and sometimes kill children – and also because proceedings about at-risk children take place behind closed doors.

Only a small proportion of cases reach criminal courts. Often, horrifying evidence of systematic abuse is relatively easy to identify but in other cases – notably involving sudden infant deaths and shaken baby syndrome – medicine and science have so far failed to offer definitive evidence about whether deaths are due to natural causes or criminal acts.
But, following the General Medical Council inquiry into Prof Sir Roy Meadow's evidence at the trial of Sally Clark, and a series of high-profile miscarriages of justice which have led on to suggestions dozens of parents have had children wrongly taken from them, more attention is being paid to identifying and dealing with child abuse.

Cases turning on disagreements between expert witnesses are now unlikely to come to court while an influential inquiry has called for a standard national approach. Questions are also being raised about whether all parents suspected of killing their babies should be prosecuted in criminal courts.

Prof David Hall, former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and professor of paediatrics at Sheffield University, said: "One of the good things to come out of these cases is people are beginning to ask what do we really know. Is the evidence as reliable as we really thought? What do we know about unexplained factors? There is an awful lot we don't know about why babies die."

Christopher Bacon, a former paediatrician at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, and medical adviser to the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, said more research was urgently needed to distinguish cot deaths due to illness or genetic factors from those due to foul play.
"No one knows how many unnatural deaths there are because the evidence isn't good enough. Sorting out the difference is very difficult but terribly important," he said.

He said he did not think the criminal courts were the best place to decide the fate of women accused of smothering babies.

"Women wouldn't do that unless they are in some way disturbed and because the level of proof is beyond reasonable doubt it is very difficult to achieve.

"The essential issue if a mother has killed a baby is to make sure that other children are protected.

"It is important that child protection cases should go on as before otherwise the pendulum could go too far the other way and social services will be unwilling to protect children which I think would be very dangerous.
"The trouble is, as with shaken baby syndrome, that with death by suffocation, which is the usual way babies are killed, there is no really firm evidence either way."

Prof Hall, who has worked in the field for 34 years, said there was no doubt that Munchausen's syndrome by proxy did exist. But he warned doctors would be less willing to raise it as a possibility in the light of the adverse publicity and the risk of being targeted by campaigners. "It might be that people don't admit to suspicions until the evidence is pretty robust which could mean children suffering unnecessarily," he said.

There were also concerns doctors were becoming less willing to get involved in child protection. "It's always been a difficult field to work in long before the present storm broke. But I think it does get easier when you realise you don't have to be a policeman – you're just looking after children."

In many cases it was a case of minimising risk without doing harm to the family.

"Very often it might be that parents aren't coping very well so it's a question of getting help to enable them and you see them again and they are now coping.

"It is the worst nightmare for any parent that they should be wrongly accused of child abuse but it's not something anyone does lightly.

"But the opposite also applies for a doctor who suspects something is up but does nothing and then a child is more seriously abused and even killed."

---------------
16 July 2005
www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.a ... ID=1087424
 
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And another case emerges:

last updated: 7/15/2005

Nurse Released on Bail

July 15, 2005 — A Delaware nurse (left) accused of injecting her toddler with feces has been released on 27-thousand dollars bail.

Twenty-nine-year old Stephanie McMullen was taken into custody Thursday night. Police say McMullen, a former pediatric nurse at A-I DuPont Hospital for Children, deliberately injected fecal matter into her 22-month old son, causing the boy to be hospitalized numerous times.

Investigators found syringes in her locker at the hospital and at her home in Bear.

Police say the incident appears to be a case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a rare disorder that causes caretakers to create health problems for others.


---------------
(Copyright 2005 by Action News. All Rights Reserved.)
http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/news/071505 ... ullen.html

Del. Woman Accused of Trying to Kill Baby



By Associated Press

July 15, 2005, 2:33 PM EDT

BEAR, Del. -- A former pediatric nurse has been charged with trying to poison her toddler son by injecting human feces into his bloodstream.

Stephanie McMullen, 29, was charged Thursday with assault and reckless endangerment counts and released on bail.

Doctors at the hospital where McMullen worked alerted police that her 22-month-old son had been hospitalized six times since he was four months old for "serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses," acting police chief Lt. Col. Scott McLaren said.

During one examination, doctors found E. coli, a bacteria found in feces, in the boy's bloodstream, and said the only way it could have entered the bloodstream was "through injection, not consumption."

"This could have eventually led to the death of the child," McLaren said.

A search of McMullen's hospital locker turned up needles, a syringe holder and an intravenous line tap, and an examination of her home computer indicated she had been researching child poisoning, according to court records.

McLaren said the woman could have Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which caregivers cause illnesses in children or exaggerate their symptoms in an effort to draw attention to themselves.

McMullen's attorney, Elwood Eveland Jr., said the child has an eating disorder, and that he has consulted with a medical expert who believes that what the child is suffering is part of a medical condition.

He said police have "absolutely no evidence of an objective nature" against her.

The boy was placed in foster care, and McMullen is scheduled to appear in Family Court next week to try to regain custody.
Source

Nurse not suspected of injuring other kids

Hospital reassures public after mom's abuse charge
By ROBIN BROWN / The News Journal
07/16/2005

Children's hospital officials and prosecutors said Friday they have found no indication that a former pediatric nurse, accused of poisoning her toddler son with human feces, harmed other youngsters.

She was freed after her husband, Brian, posted $27,000 bail. She did not return calls for comment Friday. Her attorney, Elwood T. Eveland Jr., said after her arrest that police have "absolutely no evidence of an objective nature" and that the child suffers from an eating disorder.

If convicted, McMullen faces up to 30 years in prison.

Her 22-month-old son, the couple's only child, has been in foster care since the investigation began in April, according to police, who said he's doing well. Police said the case involves "Munchausen syndrome by proxy," a pattern of behavior that most often involves a parent, usually a mother, causing, overstating or faking the child's illness so they can get the sympathy and attention doctors and others routinely give parents of children in crisis.

Police said in court records that McMullen, formerly employed by Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, told them she showed traits of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

The syndrome is rare and rarely seen in Delaware, said Attorney General M. Jane Brady.

The difficult-to-diagnose syndrome has even less frequently been cited as a motive for crime here: Since Brady began prosecuting state cases in 1977, she said, "I only remember one other case that came up in a criminal context."

On a different occasion, she recalled, the syndrome affected a parent involved in a child protective case the state was handling.

Brady agreed with police and experts who said other parents need not worry.

Munchausen syndrome was identified in 1952 and named after an 18th-century German baron, Hieronymous Karl Fredrich von Munchausen, who was known for exaggerating his exploits, according to AsherMeadow, a Maryland-based group originally called the Asher-Meadow Center for Education & Prevention of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

The illness causes people to go to extremes to show "symptoms," such as cutting themselves to drip blood into their urine. Fake symptoms may baffle doctors, who extend the attention the patients crave.

When the syndrome is "by proxy," a parent creates, overstates or fakes the child's illness.

Exclusive to parents

The phrase "Munchausen syndrome by proxy," was first used in a 1976 report on four children whose growth was stunted by the abuse, according to AsherMeadow.

According to an FBI study of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, 80 percent of mothers who abused their children had backgrounds in health care, had previously inflicted injury on themselves and had received psychiatric care prior to diagnosis.

Part of the reason Delaware law enforcement officials say parents whose children were treated at duPont hospital do not have to worry about this case is that, by definition, the condition involves parents and their children. "It is extremely rare that Munchausen syndrome by proxy would involve harm to another parent's child," said duPont hospital spokesman Jim Lardear.

Hospital leaders studied the situation, he said, and "our analysis has not shown any evidence of involvement or harm to another parent's child."

Lardear said he can't comment further, except to say McMullen no longer works there.

Bacteria found in boy's blood

But some parents still had concerns. "It scares me quite a bit," said Nicole Vella, whose son had surgery at the hospital in November and visited since then. "It was definitely a shock."

Speaking generally, Brady acknowledged Friday that any prosecution based on a rare syndrome requires extensive investigation and proof.

She declined to discuss McMullen's case specifically, except to say, "We have some pretty good evidence in this case."

Police said McMullen's son was treated six times since he was 4 months old for potentially life-threatening illnesses, with symptoms including diarrhea, fever, vomiting and dehydration. Bacteria common to feces was found in his blood, police said, and doctors concluded it was introduced to his blood by injection.

Police also said they found needles and injection supplies in McMullen's locker, which violated hospital rules, and that she used her home computer to research child poisoning twice -- and her child was hospitalized within days of each search.

But McMullen's attorney Eveland contends the allegation she has Munchausen syndrome by proxy is only the state's desperate bid to save "a floundering case."

Felony charges

A preliminary hearing for McMullen is scheduled in the Court of Common Pleas at 8:30 a.m. July 25, state officials said.

She is charged with first-degree reckless endangering and felony assault by abuse or neglect for recklessly causing serious physical injury to a child.

Assault by abuse or neglect is a felony, with conviction carrying a sentence of two to 25 years in prison. First-degree reckless endangering is a felony, with conviction punishable by up to five years in prison.
Source

Munchausen By Proxy Is Psychiatric Problem

Local Mother Accused Of Injecting Child With Feces

POSTED: 8:43 pm EDT July 15, 2005

A local mother has been accused of repeatedly injecting her child with fecal matter over a period of years. Is Stephanie McMullen a criminal, or is she sick with something called Munchausen by proxy?

Munchausen by proxy is a psychiatric disorder where people hurt their children in order to focus attention on themselves.

With Munchausen syndrome, a person fakes an illness or purposely takes pills or injects themselves with insulin or something else and then goes to different hospitals claiming to be very sick.

In Munchausen by proxy, it is usually the mother who does something to her own child. Usually the mother has a lot of health care knowledge and she usually needs the attention that a sick child brings.

It is hard to believe that someone like McMullen -- a caretaker, mother and pediatric nurse -- would do something to intentionally hurt her own child. If this is truly a case of Munchausen by proxy syndrome, that is exactly what people do.

"Why people do it we're not really not very clear. I think probably it's a way of satisfying some intense needs of being taken care of," said Dr. Barbara Schindler, a psychiatrist at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Schindler said that people who suffer from Munchausen by proxy have usually been physically or sexually abused.

"They've grown up in a house where medicine is important, or they've gotten into medicine. Become a nurse for example, and for some reason they need attention," Schindler said.

Schindler said she has heard of people injecting themselves with feces.

"I've actually seen a patient who was a nurse who was injecting her knee with feces who had this almost untreatable infection needing a knee replacement, and after she had a knee replacement she actually went back and started injecting herself again with feces,"
Schindler said.

When a mother does this to her child, could she possibly love that child? Schindler said that the answer is yes.

"Most of us can have negative and very strong feelings about certain people in our lives, and so it is possible she cares a great deal about her child and at the same time has this very pathological tendency inside her that she probably doesn't understand at all," Schindler said.

Over 98 percent of people who have Munchausen by proxy are women. Schindler said that they are very clever at fooling doctors. Many mental health care specialists believe that instead of jailing these women, they should have therapy.

-----------------
Copyright 2005 by NBC10.com.
www.nbc10.com/health/4730363/detail.html
 

AsamiYamazaki

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Grim

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4134540.stm



Mother's 'cruelty' to sick child


Police were alerted by staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital

A woman has been convicted of harming her child by scratching and neglecting a serious skin condition.

The 16-month-old girl from the Vale of Glamorgan, received regular hospital treatment but was readmitted each time when her condition worsened.

Hospital staff later alerted police to the woman's strange behaviour towards her child, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

She admitted neglect, was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and faces sentencing next month.

The jury heard that large patches of the child's skin and limbs were covered in sores which exposed her bone.


What that little girl went through makes me shudder
Judge Stephen Hopkins


She was transferred to London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for more treatment and it was staff there who raised concerns with police.

A nurse told an officer how colleagues had been "horrified" at seeing the mother - who cannot be named for legal reasons - "picking away at the baby's wounds".

John Holmes, prosecuting, told the court: "At home, she failed to put proper dressings on her baby's wounds.

"Instead she put socks and tights over her limbs to cover the sores and even cleaned them with scented wet-wipes.

'Calculating cruelty'

"Animal fur from the woman's pets was allowed to get into the wounds.

"She has failed to give any logical explanation to what happened to her child. Instead she has claimed hospital staff lied about her treatment of her daughter."

After the jury returned its verdict, Judge Stephen Hopkins said: "I have never come across a case of such cold and calculating cruelty in all my years as a barrister and a judge.

"What that little girl went through makes me shudder. She has disfigured her child for life.

"Her emotions throughout the trial, or rather her lack of them, baffle me.

"I wonder if this is a case of what was called Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy."
 
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A longer report - an interesting aspect of this cse is that the prosecution have avoided actually mentioning MSbP pos. so as not to prejudice their case and it was down to the judge to bring it up:

Baby disfigured after mother's torture included 'picking wounds to the bone'

Aug 10 2005

Catrin Pascoe, Western Mail


A BABY girl has been left deformed and disfigured after being "tortured" by her mother, a court heard yesterday.

A judge yesterday questioned whether the mother was suffering from Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, a condition where people cause others suffering in an attempt to gain attention.

The child suffered skin infections made worse by her mother picking them "to the bone".

Cardiff Crown Court heard the 16-month-old baby was regularly treated for skin infections across her body.

But each time she left hospital her wounds deteriorated and she was readmitted with "appalling" injuries.

The child suffered months of pain and was prescribed pain killers and antibiotics.

Large sections of the her skin and limbs were covered in sores through which her bones could be seen.

She was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where staff alerted police to her disturbing behaviour towards her baby.

A nurse told police she had seen the woman "picking away at the baby's wounds" in a way that left hospital staff "horrified".

Doctors eventually ruled out any inherited or rare skin condition which could have explained the baby's severe wounds.

Prosecutor John Holmes said, "At home she failed to put proper dressings on her baby's wounds.

"Instead she put socks and tights over her limbs to cover the sores and even cleaned them with scented wet-wipes.

"Animal fur from the woman's pets was allowed to get into the wounds.

"She did not give evidence in the trial and she has failed to give any logical explanation to what happened to her child.

"Instead she has claimed hospital staff lied about her treatment of her daughter.

"She lied when confronted by nurses and others and sometimes her daughter's wounds were so bad the bone was exposed.

"Her child is now permanently disfigured."

Defence barrister Tim Evans said the woman suffered from a depression compounded by the birth of her child which in some way explained the tragic circumstances of her daughter's suffering.

He said, "She was prescribed antidepressant Seroxat, but the treatment was changed after she suffered nightmares.

"She was feeling low, crying and depressed.

"It was obvious that there was something terribly, terribly wrong.

"The prosecution say this was a calculating and wicked woman torturing her child, but bear in mind this could so easily have been stopped.

"It was in the depths of her despair that this happened."

The woman, from the Vale of Glamorgan, admitted neglecting her child and causing grievous bodily harm.

But she denied causing harm with intent but was found guilty by a jury at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday.

After the jury delivered its guilty verdict, Judge Stephen Hopkins said, "I have never come across a case of such cold and calculating cruelty in all my years as a barrister and a judge.

"What that little girl went through makes me shudder. She has disfigured her child for life.

"Her emotions throughout the trial, or rather her lack of them, baffle me.

"I wonder if this is a case of what was called Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy."

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her child, will be sentenced next month.

A spokeswoman for NSPCC Cymru/Wales last night said she could not comment on individual cases in which the NSPCC have not been involved.

But she added, "Babies and toddlers are more vulnerable to harm than any other age group.

"It's essential that professionals working with young children are vigilant to potential signs of abuse and feel supported to act on their concerns."
Source
 
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Interesting link of shaken baby symdrome with SIDS with MSbp:

Article published Aug 15, 2005

High court upholds verdict in Columbia day care deaths

By JEFFREY COLLINS
Associated Press Writer

The state Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and life sentence of an Irmo woman who killed two infants by shaking them at her home day care.

Lawyers for Gail Cutro said she shouldn't have been tried for the two deaths at the same time and the judge in her trial shouldn't have allowed prosecutors to enter evidence that they said showed Cutro killed the children to get sympathy for herself.

In a 4-1 ruling Monday, the justices rejected both arguments as well as the defense's claim that it was unfair to allow a pathologist to refer to 274 autopsy reports on children who died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome while trying to show how the deaths in the Cutro case differed from SIDS deaths.

The court also rejected five other arguments from the defense.

Cutro, 45, was sentenced to life in prison after a Richland County jury found her guilty in July 2000 of homicide by child abuse in the deaths of 4-month-old Parker Colson and 2-month-old Ashlan Daniel in 1993. It was her third trial. Her conviction in 1993 was overturned and her second trial ended in a hung jury.

The cause of death for both infants was originally reported as SIDS, but their bodies were later exhumed and Cutro was charged with killing them. She also was charged with severely injuring a third baby in her care, but the jury found her not guilty.

Prosecutors said Cutro shook the babies to death because of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a condition where a care provider harms children to get attention. Cutro kept obituaries, photos and items of clothing from the dead children and lied to others that one of her own children died while a baby, according to evidence in the trial.

Cutro's lawyers said the memorabilia kept Cutro from getting a fair trial. But the justices said the evidence could cut both ways. Associate Justice James Moore wrote that Cutro's lawyers at the trial told the jury she saved the items because of her normal grief over the deaths of the babies.

Associate Justice Costa Pleicones filed the lone dissent, saying Cutro should have been tried separately for the two deaths because they did not occur in one event.
Source
 
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Child In Custody After Mother Arrested In Abuse Probe

Officials Say Mother Might Have Injected Daughter With Fecal Matter

POSTED: 9:54 am CDT August 16, 2005
UPDATED: 10:40 am CDT August 16, 2005

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has taken a 2-year-old child into custody after her mother was arrested in a possible case of Munchausen by proxy syndrome.

Sarena Sherrard, 30, might have injected her daughter with a foreign substance -- possibly fecal matter or charcoal, officials said.

Sherrard was booked into the Oklahoma County jail Sunday after seeking care for her daughter at Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City.

Sherrard was taken from the hospital, questioned by police, then booked into jail where she was being held Monday in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Irven Box, Sherrard's attorney, said Monday the allegations have no validity.

The 2-year-old girl, Box said, is "a child who's been ill for some time since birth" with stomach problems. The girl has had 13 surgeries to address her gastric difficulties, he said.

During a custody hearing Monday in Oklahoma County juvenile court, a judge ruled Sarena Sherrard and her husband, Kevin Ray Sherrard, couldn't visit their daughter until a further court order is issued, Box said.

Kevin Sherrard couldn't be reached Monday for comment.

Dr. Herman Jones, an assistant neurology professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, said he averaged seeing about three cases of the syndrome annually. Most victims are 2 or 3 years old, Jones said.

The syndrome often involves mothers who deliberately make their children sick or mislead others into thinking the children are sick.

The Sherrards are Oklahoma City residents but live in a rural area in the northwest tip of Cleveland County.

--------------------
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.
www.channeloklahoma.com/news/4857214/detail.html
 

nikoteen1

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shit, ive done it again
i had a genuine fall from a ladder at work i fell about 8ft and bent my ankle over, i was in a hell of a lot of pain, but nothing that an ice pack and a bit of strapping couldnt have sorted,
but what do i go and do when two guys are supporting me while i try to hop downstairs?
i pretended to faint and fell out of their arm and down stairs, i cut my head open on the way down.
i feel ridiculous i thought i was all over that crap, im risking my job and my health and the stupid thing is i know that when i do it.
why, why, why, why, why, ??
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hi hope you are okay! You ask why? hmmmmm....have you watched those commercials for ambulance chasing lawyers? the subconscious is greedy! However, I suspect you were hurt, angry and a bit embarrassed. you probably felt you were getting more attention than you deserved - good for you! - and unknowingly played up a bit. The consequences were beyond your control, and so the situation now appears worse than it actually was.
 
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nikoteen1: Sorry to hear about the relapse and it is interesting that it happened after a genune accident (like a smoker sparking up again after being in a smoky pub?) but you took the hard steps a while back. The important thing is to make sure you don't get trapped in the self-destructive behaviour and you've already sought help when you were in a worse off position than you are in now. Anyway good luck - I'm confident you'll be able to sort this out.
 

Min Bannister

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I noticed this case of Munchausens Syndrome by Proxy in the paper today.

A woman has admitted faking the illness of a baby girl which led to the child being admitted to hospital for a series of unnecessary operations.

Suzanne McDaid had been suffering from Munchausens Syndrome by Proxy and said the three-month-old was vomiting blood.

At the High Court in Glasgow, McDaid, form Paisley, admitted culpable and reckless conduct between October 2005 and May 2006.

Sentence on the 23-year-old was deferred for background reports.

The court heard how McDaid made her claims to staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley and Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children on numerous occasions.

Over a period of months, the baby underwent exploratory operations under a general anaesthetic.

Surgeons also tunnelled a feeding tube under her chin into her stomach and inserted a tube in a vein in her neck so that they could take regular blood samples and administer medication.

McDaid tried to make her story more believable by using a syringe to draw off blood so that she could spray it over the baby's clothes and mouth.

Neil Beardsmore, prosecuting, told the court that McDaid was suffering from Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy - a condition where people draw attention to themselves by faking illnesses in children.

Judge Lord Philip heard that McDaid's actions were revealed when her mother told police that her daughter had confessed
 
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And now...

Internet offers new ways to fake illness
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/hea ... 82495.html
Tue, Jul 05, 2011

MEDICAL MATTERS: Online dreamers follow in Munchausen’s path, writes MUIRIS HOUSTON

‘HERE IS described a common syndrome which most doctors have seen, but about which little has been written. Like the famous Baron von Munchausen, the persons affected have always travelled widely; and their stories, like those attributed to him, are both dramatic and untruthful.”

This Dr Richard Asher’s opening statement in his classical description of Munchausen’s syndrome published in The Lancet in 1951. The syndrome is an extreme form of factitious disorder, in which a person fabricates physical signs and symptoms and/or psychiatric ones with no apparent motivation other than to adopt the role of being a patient.

Munchausen’s probably accounts for fewer than 10 per cent of all factitious disorders seen in a hospital setting. To make the diagnosis the following features must be present: simulated illness, pathological lying and wandering from place to place.

Asher’s nomenclature is based on the true story of Baron von Munchausen, a German cavalry captain who lived in the 18th century. He was renowned for his fabulous anecdotes about his life and adventures, some of which were subsequently published as Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia.

Munchausen by Proxy is a related condition in which a care-giver fabricates signs and symptoms in another person, usually children in their charge. They often report breathing problems in toddlers, and diarrhoea and vomiting in older children.

Patients diagnosed with this condition often have an underlying personality disorder. Now called factitious disorder by proxy, it occurs when a person manufactures an illness in someone close to them in order to gain attention or emotional support.

The latest manifestation of the syndrome is Munchausen by internet. Coined by Dr Marc Feldman, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama, the term describes a growing number of people who pretend to suffer illnesses in order to get sympathy from online support groups.

A 40-year-old mother posted for months on an ovarian cancer website until her 17-year-old daughter came online to announce the news of her mother’s death. However the daughter then developed ovarian cancer and continued to seek support. But when the daughter’s boyfriend announced that she, too, had died, the fake was rumbled.

Feldman has described some of the behaviour patterns common to people with Munchausen by Internet (MBI): the length and severity of the fictitious ailment conflicts with the person’s activities and behaviour; a terrible prognosis is interspersed with miraculous recovery; when other forum members begin to lose interest, the user announces the illness has now affected a family member; and when members of the support group reach out to offer to visit and offer more personal support, this is deflected with sometimes bizarre excuses why further contact isn’t possible.

The scam is never about money. But those who are duped and offer genuine support often spend a huge amount of time online. When the deception is revealed, forum members who offered support are left to reflect on the wasted time that could have been given to their own families. Some describe feeling “violated” by the experience.

One of the most notorious cases of MBI occurred on a website called Connected Moms. An Australian woman calling herself Mandy said she had been diagnosed with leukaemia, not long after her husband had left her and their two children. She then reported how chemotherapy caused her to have a stroke, which required some weeks in intensive care. Members of the online community supported her through three years of medical ups and downs before she confessed.

Feldman reckons people with MBI lack social skills and simply want attention and sympathy. But as so few come forward, it may be some time yet before psychiatry can finally offer a deeper explanation for this latest spin-off from the Baron’s original exploits.
 

AngelAlice

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It's seven years old I know, from before I even posted here, but I just want to nominate this post by PeniG for some kind of award. Should be prescribed reading for everyone who works on a psych ward or has the arrogance to think we understand even a tiny part of what mental illness really is.



PeniG said:
I've known a few (fortunately only a few) people with diagnosed mental ailments - a paranoid, a paranoid schizophrenic, a depressive, two alcoholics, an ADHD - plus the unfortunate gentleman who used to hang out on the street corner by my workplace arguing with the tree (we were all angry when new management forced him to move on. as he kept the gangs away and we all looked after him to our best ability) - and so far as my limited observation goes, few of the behaviors involved are outside the range of behavior exhibited by folks who have no diagnosable mental problems. The paranoid in fact was far more reasonable, most of the time, than most of the people I worked with. When she was diagnosed, she actually said: "Ah! That explains a lot!" and she was thereafter scrupulous in keeping up with her meds. She even told her friends the specific symptoms to watch for and to warn her when she started acting paranoid. These symptoms would have been normal behavior for the person I shared an office with at the time - failure to meet obligations, haste to shift blame, excessive defensiveness, I don't remember what else, but I remember noting the resemblance strongly at the time.

The primary difference, from a non-clinical point of view, appeared to be one of degree and controllability. We all have days when we feel lousy for no apparent reason, can't sleep and/or can't make ourselves get out of bed, feel certain that nothing we do is ever going to come out right, that everyone hates us, etc. A depressive has months and weeks and years of such days. "Snap out of it," people tell them, because when most of us feel lousy an act of will, forcing ourselves out of bed and into productivity, is effective; but a depressive has no snap. He is physically incapable of feeling hope.

From the outside, depression looks like laziness; Munchausen's like malingering; paranoia like refusal to take responsibility for one's own life. A schizophrenic with an agenda may be indistinguishable from a con man. Even those who devote their lives to dealing with mental problems have only a rudimentarly understanding of what's going on or the best approach to any individual case. We live in the alchemical age of mental health; treatments are available, but a lot of them are trial-and-error, all of them are most effective in the short term, and all of them rest on a diagnosis which is as much art as science.

But if you can't stop yourself from throwing yourself at glass tables to get out of unpleasant situations, alchemy is better than nothing. The people I know who get better, or at least go through periods of self-sufficiency, have done so by getting help and actively engaging in the cure process. Only the sufferer can mend the suffering; but no one ever cured himself alone, no matter how smart or determined or tough he was. You need a safe place to be sick in; access to new information, pharmaceuticals, and treatments; at least one exterior reality check you can trust; and someone to spot you and take the pills away when necessary.
 

AngelAlice

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To resurrect the ooold discussion - I think the whole Crib Death, Shaken Baby Syndrome, MBP imbroglio is a massively complex issue that has been simplified to the point of idiocy by all the publicity, and I always thought Meadows was a bit of a scapegoat, railroaded by media pressure and hysteria. He made mistakes sure, and was too dogmatic, but as a very broad guideline I think his theory is sound. I think most clinicians in fact would agree that three or more 'crib deaths' should be treated as primarily suspicious, they just wouldn't put it in such extreme and arrogant terms.

Another problem is the way the law is massively misunderstood in the media. When a case is won on appeal it rarely means the accused has been proved innocent. It means the court thinks insufficient evidence has been found to show guilt. Not always the same thing. They've been set free and rightly so, but we can't just blithely assume all those women were actually innocent any more than we can assume all those inside are actually guilty. It's always much messier than that. It could easily be some of them got off on technicalities, or just caught a good break and a good lawyer. Calling them all 'wrongly accused' might be legallly proper but not necessarily entirely accurate.

And when it comes to SIDS or 'crib death', we have to remember how hopelessly vague the diagnosis is. The pathology of itself is pretty much indistinguishable from suffocation. Some clinicians indeed still reject it entirely as a concept and privately at least consider it to be nonsense. And on the face of it it is pretty wild. If anyone other than a baby was found dead with such symptoms the primary assumption would be some kind of foul play or unnatural causes. So in a way we are already making a special case to kind of excuse parents when their babies die. I don't say this is wrong. But it is unique. And until we have some way of identifying what SIDS is it remains a theory that - heck -might turn out to be bogus.

As a society I think we do over-venerate and idealise motherhood which both puts massive pressure on real women, who simply can't achieve the idealised perfection, and also makes us loth to accept the obvious truth that mothers are just people too, who can - and do - sometimes do awful things to their kids, because they have MBP, or because they are pushed to breaking, or because they're just jerks.
 

tamyu

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To comment on the fake illnesses on the internet...

I think that there is a sort of cult of worship that has developed around "real" suffering, and somehow bringing yourself in contact with it. People search for people who are ill to gather around and (virtually) gawk at while sending their "support".

Recovery is disappointing to the majority and they will only stick around as long as things seem to be getting worse. If someone is thriving on the attention provided, I can easily see how a real complaint could get better and they end up exaggerating (and eventually completely faking things) for more attention.

My son had some serious medical issues. I had a blog up to keep family up to date on things, and somewhere along the line started getting literally thousands upon thousands of visitors a day when things were bad. As things improved, people who had left messages about how they hoped things got better for us simply disappeared and hopped over to the next "tragedy" blog. Out of 500 some "followers" who offered their support, I think only 4 or 5 stuck around to actually give support once my son was off his death bed. It didn`t really matter to me, as I wasn`t posting for the joy of having people tell me they were praying for us... But it wouldn`t have been hard to just keep stringing things out and saying that we had more set backs than reality, etc, to keep the "spotlight".

It`s a very screwed up cult of tragedy on both sides - those who fake and thrive off of the attention, and those who thrive off of giving "sympathy".
 
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18282277

The cruellest of internet hoaxes

Attention seeking on the internet takes many forms, but the people who hoax online forums with tales of sick children are among the most painful, writes Jolyon Jenkins.

Little Charly Johns was a trouper.

She was only six years old and had cancer - but she fought it with determination. She was in and out of hospital as the disease advanced and retreated.

It was tough too for her mother Anna. She joined the Macmillan online cancer forum.

There she found support and help from people who knew exactly what she was going through.

For two years, Anna kept them updated on Charly's progress.

Continue reading the main story
Find out more

Jolyon Jenkins presents Desperately Seeking Sympathy on Radio 4 on Monday 4 June at 11:00 BST
Listen via the Radio 4 website
"On the whole she is doing great," she wrote. "She is happy, lively, giggly and very easily excitable. She is always the first to laugh at anything and the last to stop. Nobody could look at Charly now and have any idea of the things she has endured these past 14 months."

But in November last year, Charly lost her fight for life. On the Macmillan forum there was an outpouring of grief. People wrote poems in Charly's memory. They painted their fingernails pink in accordance with her last wishes - even men.

But it was all a lie. Charly did not exist. Neither did Anna.

The whole thing was a hoax, discovered when the church in Paris where Charly's funeral was to be held turned out to have no record of her.

The perpetrator, it transpired, was a teenage girl. The pictures of "Charly" were the girl herself when younger.

Many on the Macmillan forum refused to believe it. They had formed close online relationships with Anna. It seemed impossible that a teenager could have had such emotional maturity. Others left the forum in despair.

Continue reading the main story
Faking it


Munchausen syndrome sufferers pretend to be ill or induce symptoms of illness or injury to themselves
The term Munchausen syndrome by proxy (now known as fabricated and induced illness or FII) refers to people who invent or cause the symptoms of illness in someone else. The term is controversial, but the NHS maintains that a great deal of evidence suggests the condition exists
Term "Munchausen by internet" (MBI) coined by Dr Marc Feldman in 2000, after identifying a pattern in 1998, allied with rise of internet and chat forums
MBI sufferers construct false identities and feign illness or trauma in order to get sympathy or attention from online support groups
Sufferers often invent multiple online personalities to validate main character
"These are some very desperate people," says Jackie Marshall, a member of the Macmillan forum. "People who may not have long to live, who are sharing burdens with complete strangers, because they are not comfortable sharing with families. The forum provides a lifeline."

It wasn't the first time Macmillan has been hoaxed, and Macmillan isn't the only forum to have been affected by impostors.

An American psychiatrist, Marc Feldman, has described it as "Munchausen by internet", similar to the well-known Munchausen syndrome, in which people fabricate illnesses to gain attention and sympathy.

It's no exaggeration to say there's an epidemic of MBI, and one which destroys the trust that underpins the forums.

Sometimes the hoaxes are astonishingly elaborate. "Cara", on the west coast of America, kept a blog in which she detailed her fight against cancer, as well as HIV, anorexia and heart problems.

She posted pictures of herself in a hospital bed wearing an oxygen mask and feeding tube, and a video in which she struggled to speak in the face of neurological difficulties.

She became close friends with two women, one of whom, Lauren, had Cara's name tattooed on her arm. All a lie. Cara was rumbled, and vanished.

Another of those taken in was Kaylin Andres, a fashion designer who kept a blog about her own cancer. They had Skyped, and Kaylin had sent Cara small gifts.

Continue reading the main story
The Allitt case


Munchausen syndrome by proxy (now better known as fabricated and induced illness) came to public attention following the jailing in 1993 of nurse Beverley Allitt.

Dubbed the "Angel of Death" by newspapers, Allitt murdered four children and injured nine others at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital.

Allitt's actions were said to have been linked to the condition.

Then at the end of last year she logged on and read Lauren's account of her discovery of Cara's deception. "It was just such a bombshell. I remember reading it at work and I couldn't help but burst into tears," says Andres.

In recent weeks there are reports that Cara has re-emerged as "Mollie", a British teenager going through a problematic pregnancy. The hoaxers have a habit of popping up again in new guises.

Pregnancy and childbirth provide a fertile territory for them. There are cases of women purloining each other's ultrasound pictures to post online, and of insinuating themselves into forums dealing with stillbirth in order to gather anecdotal details which they can then pass off as their own.

Strangest, perhaps, is the case of Rebeccah Beushausen in Chicago, who not only faked a pregnancy, but faked pictures of the newborn baby, using an ultra-realistic doll.

In that case, Rebeccah had ideological motives - as a Christian and anti-abortionist, she wanted to show that it was possible to carry a foetus to term even though it had a severe genetic disorder.

Feldman thinks that in general, MBI is essentially the same as "classic" Munchausen's but set on a new stage.

In some cases that's true. I spoke to a woman, "Amy", who hoaxed forums for years. She posted first as someone with cancer. Then later, even more bizarrely, she posed as a young girl who was being sexually abused. She was befriended by - and deceived - an older woman for six years.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Just as online fraudsters dream of easy money, these people crave easy attention ”

But even before the internet existed, Amy had been faking medical problems. She dated it back to childhood.

"When I was nine and a half, my little sister was born and she had cerebral palsy and I felt abandoned by my mother. So I faked an eye exam so I could get glasses like my sister had."

Amy is now seeing a therapist and thinks she has kicked the habit for good.

Another woman spoke of feeling unloved by her parents, of being a misfit, of finding that the forums were the only place where felt accepted.

But compared to classic Munchausen's, hoaxing online is easy. There's no need to fool medical professionals.

It gives the perpetrator a quick hit of attention, a feeling of being valued, but without really having done anything to deserve it.

Just as online fraudsters dream of easy money, these people crave easy attention. And it is, perhaps, just another form of fraud - emotional, rather than financial fraud. And emotional fraudsters are no easier to deal with.
 
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Mother jailed for giving daughter (3) cancer drugs in bid for attention

The Australian mother of two was sentenced to six years in jail after feeding the three-year-old girl toxic chemotherapy drugs

A 23-year-old woman has been jailed after poisoning her healthy daughter with cancer drugs and setting up a Facebook page to attract support and donations.

The Australian mother of two, who cannot be named to protect her child's identity, was sentenced to six years in jail after feeding the three-year-old girl toxic chemotherapy drugs for over eight months.

She posted videos on YouTube and wrote about her daughter's "fight for life" on Facebook, attracting more than 8,000 supporters and cash donations.

The girl, now five, suffered life-threatening illnesses, including bone-marrow failure, and was treated in hospital on several occasions.

Prosecutors said she had been put at an increased risk of infertility.

A court in Brisbane was told that the mother bought the drugs online from Canada and set up a web page saying that her daughter needed a bone-marrow transplant. Health workers suspected the girl was being poisoned and advised police.

Judge Tony Rafter, in sentencing, said the crime was "incomprehensible" and that the mother was seeking to gain attention.

The mother had pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm last October.

The girl is now being cared for by her maternal grandmother.
- See more at: http://www.independent.ie/world-news/as ... dCbFa.dpuf
 
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Swansea teacher Samantha Scrine pretended she had cancer

The hearing heard that teacher Samantha Scrine had depression

A school teacher pretended she had cancer and gave colleagues a list of songs she wanted played at her funeral, a disciplinary panel has been told.

Science teacher Samantha Scrine, 26, admitted falsely claiming she was dying from a rare form of stomach cancer.

She convinced colleagues at Swansea's Gowerton Comprehensive School for eight months that she had the disease.

She was sacked for "gross misconduct of an unusual and serious nature" last year.

A disciplinary panel of the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) in Cardiff heard how Ms Scrine gave fellow teachers her funeral wish-list, including her favourite songs, a presentation of her life and a credit card to pay for her send-off.

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She said she had found a lump in her stomach but there was no treatment due to its location and she wasn't sure how much time she had to live”

Louise Price
Presenting officer at the GTCW hearing
But the hearing was told Ms Scrine did not have cancer but was suffering from depression.

During the deception, Ms Scrine also asked her colleagues to be transplant donors in a last bid to save her life.

The hearing was told that DNA swabs were taken from her workmates pretending she needed to find out if they could donate bone marrow.

False documents were also sent thanking her teaching colleagues for providing the DNA samples.

Ms Scrine claimed she was undergoing radiotherapy and was too ill to teach and her school then arranged for cover at a cost of £5,500.

Presenting officer at the GTCW hearing, Louise Price, said: "She said she had found a lump in her stomach but there was no treatment due to its location and she wasn't sure how much time she had to live. ...
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-south- ... s-27874855
 
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Interesting case here. Was it Münchhausen by Proxy?

Teenager heads home after 16-mo custody battle between parents and state

Justina Pelletier, the Connecticut teenager kept from her family by the Massachusetts government for 16 months as a custody battle raged over her medical care, is finally back at home.

“She wants a hamburger on the grill, and she wants to sit down and lie on the couch and watch a movie with the family,” Linda Pelletier, her mother, said to the Boston Globe on Wednesday before Justina’s return.

On Wednesday, Justina left the Thompson, Conn. therapeutic education center where she had been living since mid-May and returned to her family home in West Hartford, bringing to an end the prolonged battle between her parents and the commonwealth of Massachusetts. The homecoming came one day after a Baystate juvenile judge ruled that the 16-year-old’s parents could regain full custody of her.


“To hear the news is overwhelming," Lou Pelletier told FoxNews.com moments after learning of the ruling. "Now we can certainly begin the healing process.”

“We are so thankful and thrilled that Justina is at long last being returned to the loving arms of her family. The Pelletiers are relieved that this 16-month nightmare is finally over,” Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a family spokesman, said in ?a statement.

Justina’s case gained national prominence in the US over issues of medical child abuse - a syndrome in which parents fake illnesses in children to gain attention - and parental rights, the Boston Globe reported.

Justina’s parents say their daughter suffers from mitochondrial disorder, a rare genetic illness that can cause severe fatigue and intestinal issues. She was being treated by Mark Korson, a metabolic disorders specialist at Tufts Medical Center outside Boston, Mass. She had been a patient there for several years when Dr. Korson told her parents to take Justina to a gastroenterologist at Boston Children’s Hospital in February 2013, Slate reported.

But Justina never saw the gastroenterologist, and she never returned home.

Doctors at Children’s concluded her difficulty walking and intestinal problems were due to psychological issues. They diagnosed her with somatic symptom disorder, a psychiatric condition akin to hypochondria, according to Slate. They filed allegations of suspected child medical abuse, and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families was granted permanent legal custody of Justina in March, despite protests from her family and her doctor at Tufts. Judge Joseph Johnston sided with DCF, saying that the agency had proved during closed-door juvenile court hearings that “the Pelletiers were unfit to handle their child’s complex needs and should not be restored custody of their child,” the Boston Globe reported at the time. ...
http://rt.com/usa/166932-justina-pellet ... urns-home/
 
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A strange case which resulted in the mothers death.

Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom To Be Murdered

Dee Dee Blancharde was a model parent: a tireless single mom taking care of her gravely ill child. But after Dee Dee was killed, it turned out things weren’t as they appeared — and her daughter Gypsy had never been sick at all.

For seven years before the murder, Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blancharde lived in a small pink bungalow on West Volunteer Way in Springfield, Missouri. Their neighbors liked them. “’Sweet’ is the word I’d use,” a former friend of Dee Dee’s told me not too long ago. Once you met them, people said, they were impossible to forget.

Dee Dee was 48 years old, originally from Louisiana. She was a large, affable-looking person, which she reinforced by dressing in bright, cheerful colors. She had curly brown hair she liked to hold back with ribbons. People who knew her remember her as generous with her time and, when she could be, generous with money. She could make friends quickly and inspire deep devotion. She did not have a job, but instead served as a full-time caretaker for Gypsy Rose, her teenage daughter.

Gypsy was a tiny thing, perhaps 5 feet tall as far as anyone could guess. She was confined to a wheelchair. Her round face was overwhelmed by a pair of owlish glasses. She was pale and skinny, and her teeth were crumbling and painful. She had a feeding tube. Sometimes Dee Dee had to drag an oxygen tank around with them, nasal cannula looped around Gypsy’s small ears. Ask about her daughter’s diagnoses, and Dee Dee would reel off a list as long as her arm: chromosomal defects, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, severe asthma, sleep apnea, eye problems. It had always been this way, Dee Dee said, ever since Gypsy was a baby. She had spent time in neonatal intensive care. She had leukemia as a toddler.

The endless health crises had taken a toll. Gypsy was friendly, talkative even, but her voice was high and childlike. Dee Dee would often remind people that her daughter had brain damage. She had to be homeschooled, because she’d never be able to keep up with other kids. Gypsy had the mind of a child of 7, Dee Dee said. It was important to remember that in dealing with her. She loved princess outfits and dressing up. She wore wigs and hats to cover her small head. A curly, blonde Cinderella number seems to have been her favorite. She’s wearing it in so many photographs of herself with her mother. She was always with her mother. ...

https://www.buzzfeed.com/michellede...wanted-her-mom?utm_term=.rhnjRX226#.pr6aNk88o
 

Peripart

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Yikes - I've read through a bit of that story, and even though I don't particularly like where it's going, I confess that I'm gripped.
 

EnolaGaia

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Seven years of endless doctor consultations and 13 major surgeries a child experienced - none of which were necessary. The mother has now been sentenced tko 6 years in prison.
She claimed her son had cancer and subjected him to 13 surgeries. He wasn’t actually sick.

For much of his early childhood, 10-year-old Christopher Bowen was in and out of hospitals. He went to the doctor 323 times and had 13 major surgeries between 2009 and 2016, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He was fitted with a feeding tube, used an oxygen device and, sometimes, a wheelchair.

But Christopher didn’t need any of it.

According to a Child Protective Services complaint obtained by the Star-Telegram, his mother, Kaylene Bowen-Wright, subjected him to years of unnecessary invasive medical treatments in Dallas and Houston.

On Friday, Bowen-Wright was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to injury of a child, NBC Dallas Fort-Worth reported. Hospitals in Dallas and Houston had grown suspicious and filed reports with the state’s child services agency. Child Protective Services removed Christopher and his two half-siblings from Bowen-Wright’s custody in 2017 and closed its case last year. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.washingtonpost.com/crim...bjected-him-surgeries-he-wasnt-actually-sick/
 

EnolaGaia

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That might be the most extreme case I've heard so far.
I'd class that as 'attempted murder'.
Here's a 2014 case that was even more extreme - and indeed resulted in indictment for "second-degree depraved murder and first-degree manslaughter."
Woman accused of fatally poisoning son in Munchausen case

Less than a week before his death, 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears’s sodium hit a lethal level without any medical explanation.
A couple of days later, hospital staff found him on his back. Unresponsive. Barely breathing. Pupils blown. And his skin was light gray in color.

An EEG indicated brain death. He was declared dead on Jan. 23.

Garnett’s medical records speak to years of sickness in his short life — severe ear infections, high fevers, seizures, digestive problems.
Now, authorities believe there may be an explanation.

They believe it may have been his mother who was ill, possibly suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychiatric illness in which a parent makes her child sick to get attention or sympathy.

Prosecutors told local media they believe 26-year-old Lacey Spears fed her son dangerous amounts of salt after she conducted research on the Internet about its effects. She has been charged in Westchester County, N.Y., with second-degree depraved murder and first-degree manslaughter, according to her indictment. On Tuesday, she turned herself in to police. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...lty-to-poisoning-her-5-year-old-son-to-death/
 
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