Dissertation Title:

False Accusations of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: A Mother’s Experience of Persecution


Joni Carrasco

Date, Time & Place:

March 10, 2023 at 3:00 pm


“Munchausen syndrome by proxy” (MSbP), still functionally exists as a descriptor of the parental fabrication or infliction of symptoms of illness or injury upon a child, though now renamed as “factitious disorder imposed on another” (FDIA) by the American Psychiatric Association in its 2013 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Since its inception, the diagnosis has generated controversy, primarily due to its use by non-psychiatrically trained professionals whose accusations that a parent, usually the mother, has fabricated or caused their child’s medical symptoms or injuries have had devastating results for both parents and children. Overzealous attempts to protect children based on unfounded suspicions have led to loss of custody and even criminal prosecutions against mothers. Whereas existing literature includes perspectives on properly diagnosed as well as disputed MSbP/FDIA cases from various professional viewpoints, few focus on the psychological impact accusations, labeling, and/or inappropriate diagnoses have upon women unjustly accused of harming their own children. To investigate the consequences of the inappropriate use of this diagnosis, this study utilized Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to illustrate the lived experiences of women inappropriately identified with MSbP/FDIA. By means of structured interviews, common themes have been identified and analyzed through a hermeneutic circle of interpretation in which participants’ own reflections are brought into relation with broader archetypal and cultural meanings from a depth-psychological perspective.

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology, A, 2014
  • Chair: Dr. Lionel Corbett
  • Reader: Dr. Lionel Corbett
  • External Reader: Dr. Loren Pankratz
  • Keywords: Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, Factitious Disorder Imposed On Another, Dark Mother, Child Abuse, Projection, Relationships