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314. Munchausen by Proxy with Andrea Dunlop and Marc Feldman

Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MBPS) is a psychological disorder that you may have heard whispers about in the media in which a person, usually a parent, fakes or induces a medical condition in another person to gain attention. In most cases, it is the mother of a child who pretends or even causes medical symptoms the child does not actually have.

To shed light on this highly complex topic, we brought in the expertise of Andrea Dunlop, founder of Munchausen Support, and Marc Feldman, a renowned specialist in factitious disorder, Munchausen syndrome, and Munchausen by proxy. Through personal experiences, real-life cases, and scientific research,  they educate us on the underlying motivations behind this behavior, including the desire for attention and emotional gratification. 

The conversation also touches on the range of behaviors associated with Munchausen by Proxy, from subtle forms of overmedicalization to extreme cases involving active induction of illness. Andrea and Marc stress the need to acknowledge and address these behaviors, as well as provide support and resources for survivors and their families. Find out how we can support people affected by these complex disorders by tuning in.

Listen and Learn: 

  • Andrea shares her personal experience with the topic after her sister was investigated for medical child abuse
  • The distinctions between Munchausen syndrome and Munchausen by proxy 
  • Are Munchausen syndrome patients, or Munchausen by proxy perpetrators, deliberately deceitful? 
  • What kind of satisfaction does Munchausen syndrome cause to motivate such pathological behavior? 
  • Can factitious disorder behaviors occur in both real life and online? 
  • How do we recognize the signs of Munchausen syndrome, or Munchausen by proxy? 
  • Does Munchhausen behavior always lead someone to be the perpetrator?
  • Where to find resources and information about Munchausen
  • What we can do to prevent abuse inflicted by Munchausen by proxy 
  • Are we bad at recognizing female violence? 
  • Is rehabilitation possible?

Resources: 

About Andrea Dunlop

Andrea Dunlop is the host and creator of NOBODY SHOULD BELIEVE ME, an investigative true crime podcast that is consistently in the top 20 on the Apple True Crime charts. Andrea is the founder of Munchausen Support, an online resource, and non-profit that supports survivors and families. She is a member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s Munchausen by proxy committee where she serves alongside some of the country’s foremost experts. Andrea is the author of four novels: Losing the Light (Atria; 2016), She Regrets Nothing (Atria: 2018), We Came Here to Forget (Atria; 2019), and Women Are the Fiercest Creatures (Zibby Books; 2023) Her work has been featured in places like Vanity Fair, People, Entertainment Weekly, ABC News Live, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a non-fiction book based on the podcast, co-authored with Detective Mike Weber that is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press in 2024. 

About Dr. Marc Feldman 

Dr. Feldman is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. A Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Feldman is an international expert in medical deception, including factitious disorder imposed on self or another; medical child abuse; and malingering. He is the author of five books and more than one hundred peer-reviewed published articles. His latest book is entitled, DYING TO BE ILL: TRUE STORIES OF MEDICAL DECEPTION. Dr. Feldman is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School and completed his psychiatric residency at Duke University Medical Center, where he later joined the faculty. He was formerly Vice Chair and Medical Director in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).Dr. Feldman was a member of the workgroups for the revisions of the factitious disorder diagnoses for both DSM-5-TR and ICD-11. 

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Episode 314