Welcome! So what is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy?

Thank you for asking!

My name is Monika Wahi, and I’m one of the co-founders of the Proxy Project.  This is the first post of what will someday be our famous blog that started our famous movement toward a public health response to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, or MSbP.

I first want to thank you for being curious about being part of our movement!  Now you probably deserve an explanation about what MSbP is, and also, what the Proxy Project is trying to do.

What if you’ve never even heard of MSbP?

Then you are better off than people who have.  That is because most of what is out there (including in the scientific literature, not just popular culture) ranges from being an incomplete picture all the way to being simply incorrect. So people who have heard of it probably have the wrong idea.

If you’ve never heard of MSbP, suffice it to say at this point that it is the deadliest form of child abuse known. It is usually done by women, and their victims are usually their own children, but there are lot of variations.

It is a kind of child abuse that has features that “don’t make sense” from an outsider’s perspective. Although we don’t agree, we can imagine a mother hitting a child who is bothering her simply because she is human and can lose patience with children.  However, it’s really hard for most people to imagine a mother working day and night to hatch an evil plan to brainwash and torture a child who she carried in her womb. Therefore, when MSbP is discovered, it is often hard for the authorities who learn of it to believe it.  Sometimes, they simply deny it, and the child dies from the torture!

If you are thinking that a person would have to be very, very sick to do that, then you are right – these perpetrators are very, very sick. Not only do the children deserve help, so does whoever is torturing them!

How do you know it’s MSbP and not something else?

That’s the million-dollar question. We hope to figure that out through research. Here is a list of situations that have been called MSbP by various groups, and our group agrees:

  • Kathy Bush is a mother in Florida who was convicted of child abuse – specifically MSbP abuse.
  • Most recently, the Lacey Spears case made headlines, but the court did not bring up MSbP specifically.
  • Waneta Hoyt was also a famous MSbP abuser who suffocated her children.
  • Famous musicians Marilyn Manson and Eminem have said in public interviews that they are adult survivors of MSbP.

The list goes on and on, but it has not been assembled carefully. If you go to these links, you will notice a common theme – all of these perpetrators used the US healthcare system extensively as one of their many weapons of abuse.

Hospital outside emergency room.

What’s special about the Proxy Project?

Until now, no group has really looked at these situations and asked the important public health questions, like:

  • To enact public health policy, MSbP needs a public health case definition.  What should it be? Not only does it need to be accurate enough to pick out MSbP abuse from other child abuse, it needs to not mislabel healthy situations where no abuse is occurring.
  • How can the US healthcare system identify victims and perpetrators when they present in a healthcare setting so they can rescue them as soon as possible?
  • What should be done when victims or perpetrators are identified? What can be done to favor diagnosis and treatment over corrections and punishment?
  • In the most common case of the mother-infant dyad, what is the best course of action to heal the mother?  What needs to be done to heal the infant?
  • What are the less common cases of perpetrators and victims, and what is the appropriate response when they are discovered?
  • What is the collateral damage of MSbP in a family?  What healthcare needs does the rest of the family have, and how do we meet them?
  • If you survive this torture, what happens to you when you’re an adult?  What illnesses do you have, and how do you get rid of them? How should the US healthcare system play a role in your recovery?
  • MSbP seems to run in families, but how does it get started? What can we do as a society to reduce the likelihood MSbP will start in families?

The Proxy Project got together over these ideals, and that’s what our blog is about.  We want to answer these questions, and we want you to help us!  If you read our blog posts….

  • …you might see something that makes you curious.  Ask us a question!
  • …you might see something that makes you angry.  Tell us in a comment!
  • …you might see yourself or your family in some of the posts.  Share your story with us!
  • …you might disagree with our interpretations of ideas.  Tell us what you think!
  • …you might have some additional scientific or newsworthy information for us.  Give us the link!
  • …you might enjoy some of the writing.  Give us a verbal fist-bump!

We built a little community among ourselves at the Proxy Project, and we want to open that community up to you.  Working together, we can achieve our mission, which is to:

End child abuse through research

Photograph by M. O. Stevens.


Please reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s