Several factors may put someone at higher risk of developing Munchausen syndrome, including:
- Childhood trauma, such as emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- A serious illness during childhood that allowed them to be cared for and nurtured
- A relative with a serious illness
- A poor sense of identity or self-esteem
- Loss of a loved one through death, illness or abandonment early in life
- Unfulfilled desire to be a doctor or other health professional
- Work in the health care field
- Personality disorders
Munchausen syndrome is considered rare, but it's not known how many people have the disorder. Some people use fake names to avoid detection, some visit many different hospitals and doctors, and some are never found out — all of which make it difficult to make a reliable estimate.
More males are diagnosed with Munchausen, and it seems to be more common among young or middle-aged adults.
May. 13, 2011
- Lipsitt DR. Factitious disorder and Munchausen syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 6, 2011.
- Factitious disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com/content.aspx?aID=9652. Accessed Jan. 6, 2011.
- Munchausen syndrome. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/sec15/ch204/ch204e.html. Accessed Jan. 6, 2011.
- McDermott BE, et al. Factitious disorders and malingering. In: Gabbard GO. Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Jan. 6, 2011.
- Ford CV. Factitious disorders and malingering. In: Ebert MH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw Hill Medical; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3287516. Accessed Jan. 7, 2011.
- Eisendrath SJ. Factitious disorder (including Munchausen's syndrome). In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?sid=1102213041&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00015-9--sc0010&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00015-9--sc0010&uniqId=234252088-133#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00015-9--sc0010. Accessed Jan. 7, 2011.