Drs. Judith Libow and Herbert Schreier wrote many works on Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP), including a book titled “Hurting for Love”. Although they literally “wrote the book on” MSbP, they faced criticism in the scientific literature.
To the credit of Libow & Schreier, no one else was providing any better science; they seemed to be the main scientific voices on this issue at the time. Later, they would continue to work together from time to time, but their scientific publication careers diverged.
Dr. Libow only published three papers I could find on MSbP after the initial food fight with Dr. Carek I cover in previous posts. I’ll cover Dr. Libow’s work in my subsequent posts. In this one, I overview the work of Dr. Schreier beginning in 1996, with his first publication after the food fight.
Dr. Schreier is a psychiatrist, as I point out in earlier posts, and it makes sense that his work then leads in a more psychiatric direction than Dr. Libow’s, as she is a psychologist.
In 1996, Dr. Schreier first single authors an article on a maternal MSbP perpetrator who makes false sexual abuse allegations against all kinds of people, repeatedly presenting at sheriff’s departments. He asks in the title of the article: When is it MSbP?
His seven-page article talks about a case, but the reader doesn’t find out what happened to the child.
The story ends in the middle. Why was this case written up when it wasn’t finished?
In the case study, the mother accuses others of sexual abuse and uses the system, while Dr. Schreier rightfully points out later in the article that all the sexual abuse investigations into the child’s genitals by everyone itself probably has the effect of rape. Again, Dr. Schreier plays the role of interested spectator – even rubbernecker – watching this child get raped by officials repeatedly doing rape kits on the kid and the kid being coached to talk about sexual abuse in court.
Then he offers a handy dandy guide with six steps to assessing mothers. Thanks, Dr. Schreier.
More of a Focus on the Psychiatric Side
Dr. Schreier’s next article, in 2000, is actually pretty good, and points out that MSbP moms can be using psychiatrist and the psychiatric system as a weapon. Unlike his earlier work, it seems objective, practical and thoughtful, rather than whimsical and melodramatic.
The next step in Dr. Schreier’s research line is a collaboration between himself, Dr. Libow, and a newer name to the field at the time, Dr. Catherine Ayoub, along with several others as authors of a position paper about definitional issues in MSbP. Apparently, they served on the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) Task Force on MSbP on the Definitions Working Group.
Feel free to read them yourself. I find the work underwhelming and not very helpful. They don’t really talk about what you do when you identify child abuse occurring. They just talk about splitting hairs in defining one kind of horrible child abuse as distinct from another kind of child abuse. Maybe interesting to Libow & Schreier, but as an epidemiologist, I find it boring.
Next Up – 2002
2002 is a big year for Drs. Libow & Schreier, and especially Dr. Schreier, as they author several publications on MSbP. I cover these in my next post.
Want an example of “psychiatric” MSbP?
Read here as Mariel Chance of the Proxy Project describes her experience with her mother, a psychiatrist and MSbP perpetrator who insisted Mariel had a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and drug addiction.
Image with rainbow heart from Pixabay. Photo of court room control system by Army Spc. Shanita Simmons.