Sharp Objects on HBO: Is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Really a Thing? (Pt 1)

September 25, 2018 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
Sharp knives
“Sharp Objects” tells the story of a “cutter” who self harms because she was the victim of munchausen syndrome by proxy.

If you haven’t watched HBO’s Sharp Objects, then we recommend you stop reading right now – there are way too many spoilers ahead! But if you, like millions of others around the country, tuned in to see Gillian Flynn’s best selling novel brought to life on screen by Amy Adams, Chris Messina and Eliza Scanlen, then you’ve probably been wondering the same thing: is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy really a thing? Like, really?

Sharp Objects is a story about Camille Preaker, a journalist who returns to her hometown to investigate a few unsolved child murders. There she’s forced to confront her mother’s mental illness, and the Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy that damaged her childhood and ultimately caused her little sister’s death. It also raises some very interesting questions about this particular mental disorder, and the impact that a false accusation can have on a family.

What is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy?

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is very real. It does happen, and it’s a tragedy that can destroy children’s lives and tear families apart. But the fact is, it happens far less often than we’re led to believe. Like so many rare mental illnesses and behavioral disorders, it tends to be sensationalized by the media, and treated as if it were something “exotic”.

The reality, however, is substantially different. When it does happen, it’s awful. But more often than not, what gets labeled as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is actually just a tragic twist of fate. A child with a little known and frequently misdiagnosed illness that doctors don’t recognize for what it is, and so they label the parent as an abuser.

When a doctor claims “munchausen” it’s usually a rare illness

Between Mitochondrial disease, PANS disease, Hunter Syndrome and Fucosidosis, the list of rare and hard to diagnose diseases seems to get longer with each passing year. And with it, the list of parents who are accused of abusing their children.

There have been numerous instances where doctors have labeled parents, usually the mother, as a monster whose hurting her child for attention. Only later, after endless tests and court dates and arguments, will the truth be revealed – usually in the form of an extremely rare medical condition. But by then the parents have spent thousands in lawyers fees, and are labelled abusers by CPS and members of their communities.

Have you been accused of hurting a child for attention?

We have spent decades defending falsely accused parents. Parents who’ve been accused of abusing their children, when the real culprit is simply a tragic disease. Or a rare birth defect. Or medical ignorance. So if you or a loved one have been falsely accused of harming a child, contact us immediately at 866 766 5245. Our skilled and experienced child abuse defense attorneys can help you through this heartbreaking time and fight for your children. We can make a difference.