Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.
Munchausen's by Proxy is a rare "disorder" or situation in which a person creates, takes on or falls into the role of caretaker for someone who is sick or disabled and then enables that person to become more and more ill or disabled. How can such a thing happen?
First example is one in which a child becomes physically ill, such as having stomach inflamation. The mother gives the child every medicine and more and every food which exacerbates the condition without disclosing to anyone that she is doing it. Gradually, the mother becomes like a nurse to an increasingly ailing child. Her family and friends marvel at her patience and martyrdom, as the child continues to suffer.
Example two consists of a husband who is a doctor. His wife suffers from Depression of a clinical nature, having bouts of crying, self-pity, lack of joy and no motivation for days at a time with no legitimate trigger. He substitutes meds for her prescribed ones which worsen her mood and feeds her herbs, claiming their helpfulness, which also lower her mood. He is a criminal. In this case, this horrible manipulation served his needs to maintain an affair on the side. Had he not been caught, he could have become a murderer.
Now, my last example is that of a parent who defines her average child who has some learning disability and attentional issues as rejected, injured, and further disabled by by almost everyone else in his life, including all agencies, schools and institutions. If she doesn't catch on, she believes that everyone is against her and that she is a failure. The parent fashions herself as somewhat of a savior and the only person who understands, playing out her own complex familial issues all the while.
These cases are tragedies and become like a mental and/or physical health problem shared by perpetrator and victim alike and by the system as a whole.