Libow, Schreier, & Munchausen by Proxy: Part 2 – The “Tango” of MSbP

In my last post, I introduced this series of posts about the work of MSbP researchers Drs. Judith Libow, a psychologist, and Dr. Herbert Schreier, a psychiatrist. Here, I talk about my own perspective, as an epidemiologist.

An Epidemiologist’s Point-of-View

So, from the point-of-view of an epidemiologist who was born in 1971, and was suffering through undiagnosed MSbP torture from that time until somewhere in the 1990s (when Libow & Schreier’s work was beginning to get published), I think a lot of their work falls flat. I think they meant well, but let’s face it – they are healthcare providers, and I am an epidemiologist.

The “Tango” of MSbP

As my dad always says, “It takes two to tango”, and the MSbP “dance” initiated by a maternal or paternal perpetrator is only Tango Couplepossible with cooperating healthcare providers.

Since Libow and Schreier are also in the same occupational population as the provider perpetrators, I feel it is fair to ask: can they really write objectively about some horrible things their peers must have been doing? And – more importantly – if the natural history of MSbP perpetration involves induced or factitious psychiatric disorders (as the Proxy Project believes), then mightn’t Libow and Schreier have been played like a fiddle by these perpetrators? Might their work reflect their participation in the perpetration – without them even knowing it?

So as a public health beneficiary of the work of Libow & Schreier, I feel somewhat short-changed. Perhaps clinicians (like themselves) would not see it the same way, although some clinicians actually weighed in on my side in the scientific literature. I’ll cover that part, too, in my posts throughout the series.

Preface to Libow’s & Schreier’s work

In summary, Libow and Schreier have been a “mixed bag” in terms of advocacy for MSbP victims, in my opinion. On one hand, they Wooden heartestablished important foundational knowledge in the field. On the other hand, I will argue in my blog posts that their lack of a public health perspective in their writings led to a greater protection of the provider perpetrators, a dismissive attitude toward the families and victims, and the overall lack of a public health mandate for the development of evidence-based public health policy on MSbP to promote primary prevention of the harms of MSbP, rather than waiting for it to happen and trying to diagnose it.

This unfortunate result of Libow & Schreier’s work was probably 100% unintentional, because I feel these individuals at their hearts had good intentions. I just feel that their jaded view inculcated by their training obscured their objectivity, and led to a rather superficial and sensationalist approach to a serious public health problem. I encourage you to read my blog posts, as well as the original works by these authors, with objectivity, and make your own judgment about the pioneering work of Drs. Libow and Schreier in the field of MSbP.

Are you new to the term “epidemiologist”?

A lot of people are.  Read about what an epidemiologist is here.

Photograph of Miguel Angel Zotto and partner dancing the tango by Raphael Koerich. Picture of wooden heart by condesign at Pixabay.


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