Conquering the chimaera: an insight into the need to redefine the complex form of child abuse, Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy
Rakay, Chrisitine Alese
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Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) is a term given to a situation which presents criteria for both Pediatric Condition Falsification (PCF) and factitious disorder by proxy (FDP). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV text revision (DSM-IV-TR), in child abuse cases where FDP is a result of PCF, then the nomenclature, MSBP, can be used interchangeably to describe such an event. Currently, in a situation that is diagnosed as Factitious Disorder by Proxy, the perpetrator of such an event is diagnosed as having Factitious Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (FD-NOS). An obvious issue stemming from this is the confusion over what should be diagnosed and remedied, i.e., the situation, the perpetrator, and/or the victim. Due to the convoluted and often controversial definition of such an event, as well as the criteria for diagnosis, it is proposed here that a new definition be adopted to explain this form of child abuse. With this novel definition, the symptoms of this psychological disorder of the perpetrator are observed in the victim. Under this new definition, the psychiatric term "Factitious Disorder by Proxy" would be used as a mental diagnosis of the caregiver, wherein the symptoms manifest in that of the victim. Additionally, an addendum to the type of symptoms exhibited in the child is proposed to include that of the exacerbation of symptoms in children with valid pre-existing conditions. An extensive literature review was performed to support the proposal for changing the criteria and diagnosis of FDP in the DSM. The implications of this change would greatly benefit not only the psychiatric, medical, and legal realm, but the forensic community as well.
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