Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 131–140 | Cite as

Munchausen syndrome by proxy: Covert child abuse

  • Doris J. Manthei
  • Robert L. Pierce
  • Robert J. Rothbaum
  • Uwe Manthei
  • James P. Keating


Munchausen syndrome by proxy has received considerable attention in the medical literature. These reports, however, usually focus on descriptions of the medical aspects of the often bizarre patterns of parent-child behaviors which characterize this syndrome. Despite the destructiveness of these behaviors, few attempts have been made to examine the syndrome from the perspective of a variant form of child maltreatment. In light of this, the authors will: (1) define and briefly summarize the history of the syndrome; (2) review the literature focusing particular attention on the definition of the syndrome, pinpointing its relationship to child abuse; (3) provide case studies of the syndrome to illuminate the interplay of medical and psychosocial aspects of the problem; and (4) suggest methods of intervention.

Key words

covert child abuse factitious illness Munchausen syndrome by proxy social work intervention 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doris J. Manthei
    • 1
  • Robert L. Pierce
    • 2
  • Robert J. Rothbaum
    • 3
    • 4
  • Uwe Manthei
    • 5
    • 6
  • James P. Keating
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social ServicesChildren's Hospital at Washington University Medical CenterSt. Louis
  2. 2.George Warren Brown School of Social WorkWashington UniversitySt. Louis
  3. 3.The Edward Mallinckrodt Department of PediatricsWashington University School of MedicineUSA
  4. 4.Division of Gastroenterology and NutritionChildren's HospitalSt. Louis
  5. 5.The Edward Mallinckrodt Department of PediatricsWashington University School of MedicineUSA
  6. 6.Division of Allergy and ImmunologyChildren's HospitalSt. Louis

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