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Question
Posted by: Exhausted | 2008/01/26

Munchausen Syndrome?

My father retired a while ago, and since then has made his health his hobby. He was diagnosed with diffuse esophageal spasm a few months ago, and is driving the entire family crazy with his food demands. He's allegedly going do die unless he eats five small meals a day, but won't lift a finger to prepare them (or even microwave those we've put in the freezer for him). When we prepare meals for him, he doesn't eat them - and makes very, very sure we know all about it.

He visits various specialists with new ailments almost every second day, and sounds proud of the fact that he has spent over R200 000 in just a few months on medical expenses.

Even worse, he has had two operations performed on my mother against her will, and loves taking her for medical check-ups - even though he is usually too "ill" to get out of bed. Strangely, he seems to think that he is working very hard and supporting us all, even though he only occasionally handles an assignment.

How do we cope with him - without resorting to murder, as several family members have suggested only half-jokingly?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

SOunds more like attention-seeking, manipulativeness, and childishness, with a touch of hypochondriasis, more than Munchausen. Provide the wherewithall for him to prepare his multiple small meals and leave him to it. He's surely entirely physically capable of doing this. Any surgeon who performed any operation on your mother against her will and without her full, signed and documented informed consent, ought to be arrested. Maybe see a shrink ( psychologist probably best in this instance ) for a detailed discussion of how to form plans, jointly, to tackle his maladaptive behaviour

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