Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a crime where a person inflicts medical harm or implies harm to a person in their care. Usually the person harms their own child but cases of adult children harming their elderly parents have occurred. Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness that is often not diagnosed so the damage continues.
While Munchausen Syndrome was first mentioned in medical books in 1951, the addition of by proxy was first documented in 1977 by pediatrician Roy Meadow. Dr. Meadows was a professor in England who had examined two mothers who had inflicted medical harm on their children.
One of the mothers poisoned her child with too much salt while the other added her blood to the child’s urine sample. The difference in the two cases is one mother actually harmed the child (with the salt) while the other mother just implied blood was in her child’s urine. Those are the two sides of the syndrome for parents and their children. Both sides are criminals in the court of law, as even the implied case requires that the child have medical test and treatment that they do not need.
One may wonder why a parent would do this to their child. The simple reason is the parents relish the attention they get that their child is sick.
Those inflicted with Munchausen Syndrome by proxy are not only parents of children but it can also be people in the medical field. Beverly Alliott was a nurse who gave infants in her ward insulin potassium chloride they did not require. She killed four innocent babies and harmed another nine before she was investigated. After the investigation she was relieved of her duties. Her case went to trail and she went to prison for live as her punishment for her crimes in 1993.
Adult children who have this syndrome will also inflict actual harm or implied harm to their parents. The implied harm causes the parents to have medical tests, which they do not require.
There have also been cases reported of pet owners who treat their pets as children as having this syndrome.
Both men and women commit this type of crime; however, mainly women do this. If it’s proven the person will go to trial, and receive due punishment. The patients all get counseling but not all will serve jail time. I know of one local case where an OB nurse was diagnosed with Munchausen Syndrome by proxy was sentenced to counseling and had her children removed from her care for a period of a year. She inflicted harm to her youngest child when he was a baby by using her medical knowledge but the child survived and graduated last year. She was still able to see the children when they were removed from her care, but those were supervised visits.