Libow, Schreier, & Munchausen by Proxy: Part 12 – Book’s Weaknesses

In this series of posts, I review the scientific work in the field of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) published by authors Libow & Schreier. In my recent posts, I discussed my reaction to their book on the topic, “Hurting for Love”, and also began to discuss a book review published by Dr. Dierdre Conway Rand. Here, I list what I consider weaknesses of the book, backed up by quotes from Conway Rand’s review.

Highlights of Conway Rand’s Review

It is impossible to do justice to Conway Rand’s awesome review, so I will just put a few quotes here. She opens her discussion by rightfully complimenting the authors on their book that will provide “practical guidance”, but then says that the book:

…presents MBPS abuse in a neat, comprehensive, total package which is both its strength and its weakness.

And here are more weaknesses of the book, which I will label with my own words and support with quotes from Conway Rand.


Weakness #1:  Lack of Scientific Objectivity and Rigor

Schreier and Libow’s over-commitment to their hypothesis that the mother’s primary motivation is to maintain a special relationship with the child’s doctor has the effect of dogma.  While the hypothesis is well developed and intrinsically interesting, it fails to integrate conflicting material and thereby stultifies further scientific inquiry.


Schreier and Libow mention my [Conway Rand’s] work in passing but consistent with their tendency to downplay data that does not fit in with their view, they fail to explain or integrate it.

Weakness #2:  Lack of Public Health Perspective

Another of the book’s overvalued ideas is that MBPS is so unique that it is qualitatively different from adult Munchausen syndrome… The importance of these differences is not that MBPS is special and unique but that it can teach us things about the two major classes to which it belongs: factitious disorders and child abuse.

Weakness #3:  Lack of Awareness of How Authorities are “Played” by the Perpetrator

Note: The bolded area below is my emphasis, not the emphasis of the original author.

The authors are clearly aware that MBPS parents, once discovered, can transfer their attention-seeking efforts from the Using iphone and computermedical establishment to therapists, social workers, and the child protective establishment.  What they fail to comprehend is that some parents do more than transfer the MBPS behavior to this arena… In my work, I define this as a contemporary manifestation of MBPS because it has developed in tandem with the proliferation of social services directed at managing the problem of child abuse… Meadow recently reported on 14 cases of dual factitious disorder by proxy in which mothers were simultaneously presenting their children to the child abuse establishment in the victim role and to the medical establishment in the patient role.  For 11 of these children, it was the discovery that the abuse allegations were false that led to the discovery that the children were also incurring factitious illnesses.

I bolded those phrases because I thought they did a great job of describing Libow & Schreier’s naiveté in this area.

Next Up – 1994

In 1994, Libow & Schreier publish two more co-authored articles – again, not without criticism. I’ll cover those in my next post.

Have you read a book on MSbP?

If so, which one? And what is your review? Please comment on our blog and let us know what you thought of it!

Images by Geralt and Firmbee on Pixabay.


One thought on “Libow, Schreier, & Munchausen by Proxy: Part 12 – Book’s Weaknesses

  1. I think this is a difficult area. For one thing, people are reluctant initially to understand that a parent would want to harm their child. So this is why it has been looked at as the parent having a mental illness.

    But as it is looked at more, it seems that this is extremely common. It is simply that the parent wants to harm their child, probably had children for the very reason of being able to harm them as they had been harmed.

    So it is not really a mental illness, just a type of criminal behavior. But though criminalized, our society does not usually do anything about parental child abuse. Lots of authors write stuff to encourage it, and much of this encouragement is covert, in the form of pedagogy manuals and child development theory, revolving around themes like attachment, nurturing, empathy, and communications skills.

    So some parents might be doing something physical to a child to make them appear sick, or actually become sick.

    Others might be tampering with tests or treatments.

    Still others might not be doing the above, but they may be subjecting the child to psychological abuse, and this might be causing them to be sick.

    At first glance I would suspect that this is what is happening in the Justina Pelletier case. Justina’s mitochondrial condition could indeed be real and may partially explain what is happening with her. But there is also the distinct chance that psychological abuse by her parents is also in play. If her parents cared they would lay back and admit that they might not know all the answers, and that they might indeed be a negative factor.

    I am not aware of any evidence which would justify any accusations against Dr. Alice Newton.

    Okay but there are also other things like MSbP. A parent may be abusing their child in one way or another, using medical justifications, but without any doctors being involved.

    A parent may be casting their child into some kind of surrogate spouse or other inappropriate role. A parent may be torturing their child just because they believe it is good for the child and because they are jealous of the child’s free spirit.

    The Pentecostal Daughter Abuser that I helped put into our state prison was something like this, making sure that his daughter’s were to turn out like himself and like the other members of his creepy church, believing that their sexuality was dirty. And the method he selected to do this is one tried and true, paternal molestation.

    And then there are other things, where the parent just has to stigmatize the child, looking to find in the child evidence of Original Sin. This can get into bogus developmental disabilities and disorders, or psychiatric conditions.

    So this is going to be hard to detect and understand. And much of it has little to do with M.D.’s.

    But I say that the most important things to do are,

    1. Prohibit disinheritance of your child, as it is in virtually every other industrialized nation. The current state of affairs subjects abuse survivors to still more abuse, should the decide to speak out.

    2. Provide children with escape routes, other places to go. This is how my Pentecostal Daughter Molester case surfaced, when the youngest girl, 13yo, spoke to a youth counselor, and then that counselor did exactly what the law requires. She reported it.

    3. Eliminate these Fix My Kid therapists who market by using their ‘loving parents’ thesis, and don’t report.

    4. Start filing law suits. The only proof you really need is parent v child animosity, and it is almost always right there out in the open.

    Join My Forum:


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