Munchausen (MOON-chow-zun) syndrome is a serious mental disorder in which someone with a deep need for attention pretends to be sick or gets sick or injured on purpose. People with Munchausen syndrome may make up symptoms, push for risky operations, or try to rig laboratory test results to try to win sympathy and concern.

Munchausen syndrome belongs to a group of conditions, called factitious disorders, that are either made up or self-inflicted. Factitious disorders can be psychological or physical. Munchausen syndrome refers to the most severe and chronic physical form of factitious disorder.

Munchausen syndrome is a mysterious and hard to treat disorder. However, medical help is critical for preventing serious injury and even death caused by the self-harm typical of Munchausen syndrome.

May. 13, 2011