In this series of blog posts, I review the scientific work of Drs. Judith Libow & Herbert Schreier which focused on Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP). In my most recent posts, I provide a critique of a book they wrote about it called “Hurting for Love” which I admittedly did not read.
Here, I talk about a critique from someone who presumably actually read the book, Dr. Deirdre Conway Rand.
Conway Rand’s Description of “Hurting for Love”
Conway Rand does a great job of summarizing not only the book, but the take-home message from some of Libow & Schreier’s pontifications, such as:
According to the authors, harm to the child is not an end in itself but a byproduct of the mother’s efforts to engage a powerful, often male authority figure.
This is a good summary of one of their unfounded psychological musings that has no real bearing on reality. There is so much that these mothers do that is “off stage”, where no authority figure or anyone else is present, so it makes me question Libow & Schreier they would arrive at this ideas as being the main motive for the abuse.
In a previous blog post I wrote, I suggested that the motives for the MSbP sexual abuse are probably are rooted in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) secondary to anti-social personality disorder (APD). Even if all I had was Libow & Schreier’s case series to go by, there would be enough evidence to throw both OCD and APD on the table as possible explanations. Libow & Schreier document the perpetrators as having personal medical histories that give rise to OCD and APD (such as abuse, depression, suicidal tendencies, and drug and alcohol abuse), and even document symptoms of these two conditions. Why they would not consider these diagnoses of the perpetrator is unclear to me, since they are diagnosticians and that is their specialty, not mine.
In my opinion, Conway Rand does a great job of summarizing the book, and also these wacky theories Libow & Schreier have. Conway Rand points out:
In section two, the authors elaborate on what they believe causes the syndrome, exploring two important themes: why 95% of MBPS perpetrators are women and why the pediatric health care system is the chosen arena for acting out this type of deception.
I am a researcher, and I really do not know why someone would write about this. I ask, with all due respect: Who cares?
Maybe a sociologist – like Mariel on our team – cares, but a “Mariel” at the time of Libow & Schreier’s writing would have rejected their mumblings as based on practically no evidence. Sociologists, like epidemiologists, ponder how populations behave. A few cases seen by Libow & Schreier in California hardly constitute a “population”.
Conway Rand’s Discussion
In my next post, I pull out highlights I label as weaknesses in Dr. Conway Rand’s discussion portion of her review.
Do you review books online?
If so, link us to some of your reviews in the comments! We’d love to read them!