Libow, Schreier, & Munchausen by Proxy: Part 3 – Psychologist & Psychiatrist

In my previous posts, I introduced some pivotal researchers who have published quite a bit of foundational evidence-based science on Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP). These researchers are Dr. Judith Libow and Dr. Herbert Schreier, and in this blog post, I will describe their academic and professional backgrounds as a psychologist (Libow) and psychiatrist (Schreier).

Blot 8 from the Rorschach test.

The reason I devote a couple of blog posts to this is that I feel it is really important to understand these researchers’ backgrounds in order for the reader to comprehend why they said some of the things they said in the scientific literature. To a public health person like myself, some of what they say seems extremely ill-advised. However, I believe it is always important to look into where a scientist is coming from before one criticizes his or her opinion. Therefore, the point of this post is to help the reader get inside the heads of these clinicians so the reader may better understand why they said some of the things they did.

Professional Background of Dr. Judith Libow

As of the publication of this blog post, Dr. Libow is currently affiliated with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA. Her profile at UCSF indicates that she affiliated with their psychiatry clinic, but also works at other locations.

According to Dr. Libow’s LinkedIn profile, she goes by “Judy” (I prefer that to “Judith” myself!), and she is currently “Clinical & Training Director, Dept. of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland”, a role she has apparently served for 37 years!  Since I am just turning 45, I guess she has done this work most of my life!

Also according to her LinkedIn profile, she obtained her doctorate in clinical psychology from The University at Albany, State University of New York. According to her profile at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, her training included an internship at Texas Research Institute, Austin, and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Irvine.

Therapist manual for Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for PTSD

Dr. Libow is a Psychologist

Dr. Libow is a psychologist, not a psychiatrist.  This means she worked hard and got a PhD, but she did not go to medical school. She therefore is well-qualified to provide diagnosis and treatment for mental health conditions, but she is not formally trained in administering medications and dealing with the chemical side of mental illnesses.

A psychologist is clinically trained in working with individuals on behavioral issues, and specializes in psychology and behavior, while a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in medications that address mental health issues. This is an important distinction that can impact the point-of-view of a clinician towards any mental illness (whether it’s depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorder, or MSbP).

What about Dr. Schreier?

While Dr. Libow is a psychologist, Dr. Schreier is a psychiatrist. In my next posts, I’ll describe Dr. Schreier’s background as a psychiatrist, and talks about their roles as MSbP heroes and advocates.

Want to know where Drs. Libow and Schreier did their work?

At the time of this writing (and I think currently), they work at Children’s Hospital & Research Center, Oakland, which is affiliated with UCSF. Check it out here.

Photograph of therapy manual by Lance Cheung at the US Air Force. Hermann Rorschach’s blot #8 is also pictured.


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