Poisoning in Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, Part 1: Trends


In Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP), the perpetrator may or may not induce illness through poisoning. When assembling the Proxy Project library in Zotero, I observed that it seemed that the type of poisoning trended. There seemed to be certain poisoning approaches that would go in and out of fashion. I wanted to see if I was correct, so I review our Proxy Project library and found 87 case studies (or case series) from 1965 through 2015 in which poisoning was reported.

Barmaid mixing a drink

Next, I classified those 87 articles by the type of poisoning discussed. (Note: because some included multiple cases and multiple types of poisoning, articles may be represented more than once.) I did identify a trend.

Distribution of Mechanisms of MSbP Poisonings in 87 Peer-reviewed Case Studies

Top 3

Over the entire period, the top 3 were as follows:

Rank Top 3 Count of Mentions
1 Tranquilizers/Anti-depressants 23
2 Insulin/Sulfonylurea 18
3 Emetic (Ipecac) 14

Please note that the tranquilizers and antidepressants included benzodiazepines, tricyclics, and anti-psychotics; the insulin was usually injected; and the emetic was usually ipecac.

Poisoning in MSbP Series

In this series, I will talk about the different types of poisoning in MSbP. I will try to focus on what a case presentation for MSbP poisoning of the type will look like to help clinicians recognize this behavior, as well as victims figure out if this happened to them. Last in this series, I will talk about the MSbP poisoning the took place in my family. In my next post, I will talk about the number one cause of poisoning in MSbP that I found: tranquilizer and anti-depressant poisoning.

Have you ever thought you were being poisoned or had been poisoned?

Comment and tell us your story!

Lithograph courtesy of Wellcome Trust.


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