In my previous posts, I introduce researchers Drs. Judith Libow and Dr. Herbert Schreier, who literally wrote “the book” on MSbP. In earlier posts in the series, I describe their backgrounds, and in other previous posts, I cover their early work.
In this post, I will discuss an article and book they co-authored, both of which they publish in 1993, which constitutes intense activity by this two-person team.
1993 – An Article and a Book
The article, titled, “Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: diagnosis and prevalence,” is enough to make an epidemiologist salivate! The title suggests that there is a calculation of a rate of how common MSbP is (prevalence), and that there is more information on diagnosing the families.
But even though we couldn’t get the article, I already knew it would not provide much information we didn’t have from other sources. This is because the abstract reads:
“A review of the literature and a survey of pediatric neurologists and gastroenterologists yield data indicating that the prevalence of Munchausen syndrome by proxy is greater than is generally estimated. This possibility is further supported by follow-up data on siblings of victims, together with wide variability among practitioners in case identification.”
The prevalence of MSbP is still “greater than is generally estimated”, I’m sure. However, this paper did not get us any closer to the real number. In reality, there are only a few good studies on this, and none of them was done in the United States, and none of them was done by either Libow or Schreier. Also, they point out the obvious that we continue to struggle with today – how do you define a “case” of MSbP? They are good at asking questions and bad at providing answers.
But nevertheless, their effort gets them a book deal. They call their book, “Hurting for love: Munchausen by proxy syndrome”. I do not like the name – it is really poetic. It’s a good name for something romantic, which MSbP is definitely not.
I much prefer the name of the forensic-oriented book by Kathryn Artingstall, “Practical Aspects of Munchausen by Proxy and Munchausen Syndrome Investigation”. Throughout my blog posts on the topic of Libow & Schreier’s works, you will see I regularly criticize their choice of words in naming things. They label the torture I endured with whimsical names, and I think it’s because they don’t want to believe the truth – that this is torture, not some “fable”, a term they actually use in the name of one of their articles, which I will speak about in a future post.
Is the Book Any Good?
Honestly, I don’t know because I didn’t read it. However, in my next post, I reflect on some excerpts from the book that I found online, and in the following post, I discuss another researcher’s reaction to the book.
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