Libow, Schreier, & Munchausen by Proxy: Part 8 – Article and Book

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.

Colorful binders

1993 – An Article and a Book

The Article

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.

The Book

But nevertheless, their effort gets them a book deal. They call their book, “Hurting for love: Munchausen by proxy syndrome”. I do not likeWoman with head in hand 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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Photograph of woman with head in hand by Counselling on Pixabay. Colorful binders by tookapic on Pixabay.


One thought on “Libow, Schreier, & Munchausen by Proxy: Part 8 – Article and Book

  1. Monika, I feel like I am just starting to partially see where you are coming from now.

    Yes, “Hurting For Love”, is not a good name for such a book. It puts the focus on the abuser. But the MSpB name also does this.

    Originally all the researchers could do was make up ways to exonerate the perpetrator, as they couldn’t understand it. Mother Love continues to be romanticized, and the costs to children of doing this are great.

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