Münchausen's syndrome


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Münchausen's syndrome

[mun′chousənz]
Etymology: Baron von Münchausen, German adventurer and confabulator, 1720-1797
an unusual condition characterized by habitual pleas for treatment and hospitalization for a symptomatic but imaginary acute illness. The affected person may logically and convincingly present the symptoms and history of a real disease. Symptoms resolve with treatment, but the person may seek further treatment for another imaginary disease. Also called pathomimicry.

Munchausen's syndrome

The systematic practice of deliberate and calculated simulation of disease so as to obtain attention, status and free accommodation and board. People engaging in this activity study medical textbooks and report a plausible list of symptoms of a usually serious condition so as to elicit medical interest and admission to hospital. They have a preference for surgical conditions and often display an unusual number of operation scars—a circumstance that may give the game away. Detection is inevitable and is followed by the disappearance of the ‘patient’. Baron Munchausen was the hero of the outrageously implausible pseudo-autobiographical tales of the novelist and criminal psychopath Rudolf Eric Raspe. The syndrome was so named, and first described, by Richard Asher in his book Talking Sense , published in 1972.
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