One infamous example is Beverley Allit, the paediatric nurse in the 90s who murdered four child patients and was eventually diagnosed with Munchausen and was imprisoned. Here are 4 of the strangest examples of this syndrome.
1. C.A., a Romanian teenage girl with Munchausen’sC.A. was a then-17 girl who underwent treatment for oesophagitis, diffuse gastritis and duodenitis at the SF Maria Children's Hospital in Romania. She attempted two suicides in the same year, through voluntary ethylic alcohol intoxication, followed by multiple admissions into various hospitals - 34 admissions in 3 years.
A pathological liar, she told different stories of her family, one of a friend’s death, and one in which she was a rape victim. Psychological and psychiatric examinations showed medium IQ, sadness, low level of self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
Several risk factors were seen in her childhood: separated from her mother in early childhood, she was neglected emotionally, and may have been physically and sexually abused. Psychological counseling and anti-depressive therapy were initiated but the treatment stopped as she left home without adult supervision - but her doctors believe she will return soon.
2. Leslie WilfredOn 10 November 2008, Leslie Wilfred informed husband, Chris, that the twins which they had been expecting for the past five months, were arrived prematurely and stillborn. A funeral was held for the cremated twins.
But the twins never existed at all. Leslie had her fallopian tubes tied after the birth of her last child, years before she had married her current spouse. She had also ordered the twins’ teddy-bear-shaped urns five days before the supposed stillbirths.
Leslie had also fabricated medical illnesses for two of her four children - her son, 13-year-old Charles needed a liver transplant, and her nine-year-old daughter Theresa suffered from leukaemia - and acceped donations for the bills. She also abused Nathan, Chris’ son from a previous relationship, forcing him to sleep in a tiny wooden box with plastic bands on his arms to prevent him from moving, causing him to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Leslie was sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by 30 years of probation, for several counts of cruelty to children and theft by deception.
3. Marybeth TinningBetween the years of 1967 and 1985, Marybeth Tinning from Schenectady, New York, gave birth to and buried all of her nine young children, often within months.
It began when her eight-day-old daughter, Jennifer died of spinal meningitis, the only death believed to have had a natural cause. Either overcome by grief at the loss of her newborn or she enjoyed the sympathy that she received at the loss, Marybeth began killing all her children.
Less than a month after Jennifer's death, her son Joseph Jr. passed away after Marybeth brought him to the hospital claiming that he had a seizure. He was sent back home two days later but his lifeless body was brought back hours after. Marybeth claimed he was found dead in his crib.
A few weeks later, history repeated itself, with her other daughter, Barbara. Timothy, Nathan, Mary Frances, Jonathan and her adopted child, Michael followed, and all had seizures or suddenly stopped breathing.
Finally, police suspicion arose after the death of her ninth child, Tami Lynn, in December 1985. Under interrogation, she admitted to having smothered three of her children, including Tami Lynn. However, she could only be charged with second-degree murder of Tami Lynn, due to lack of evidence and was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life. Her five parole attempts have been denied.
4. Andrea Avigal (alias), the woman who was cured
Since childhood, Andrea had suffered from Munchausen's syndrome, drinking poison, starving herself and taking excessive laxatives - once 90 of them. She grew up in a dysfunctional home in New York City - the daughter of a bipolar Holocaust survivor who had been physically and sexually abusive.
At age 5, she cut her finger with glass deliberately and showed her parents, thinking it would stop the arguments. It did not work, but she got the attention she wanted. At age 12 or 13, she faked an asthma attack and was admitted to the emergency room. She also tried to break a bone by hitting her wrist hard, with a hammer.
Now 53, Avigal is cured from the disease and credits it to New Palz, N.Y., psychologist Tom G. Hall - a pseudonym. He had made himself available to her even outside of office hours, building trust and support in an unconventional treatment known as ‘reparenting’.
"Despite being the same age, he was the good father I never had," Avigal said.
The pair have chronicled her struggles in a book and are committed to educating others about the treatment.
"I want to get the universal message out that even with a severe disorder like this, it can be treated with the right kind of help," said Hall. MIMS
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