Munchausen syndromepsychological disorder known as a factitious disorder.
The sufferer feigns, exaggerates, or creates symptoms of illnesses in themself in order to gain attention, sympathy, and comfort from medical personnel. The role of "patient" is a familiar and comforting one, and it fills a psychological need in the man or woman with Munchausen's.
In the form of the illness known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) the "victim" of the illness is usually the patient's child, while their parent gains attention and sympathy as their "worried" mother or father. Munchausen by proxy is a form of child abuse first identified by Sir Roy Meadow, former professor of Paediatrics at the University of Leeds, England. During the 1990's and early 2000's, Meadow's expert testimony sent many suspected MSbP-sufferers to prison for allegedly murdering their children, as well as causing many potential victims to be taken into care. However, during the course of 2003 a number of high-profile acquittals brought Meadow's ideas into serious disrepute. Many experts now doubt even the existence of MSbP, and at time of writing upwards of 250 convictions which relied on Meadow's evidence are under review. Meadow himself is under investigation by the British General Medical Council for suspected professional misconduct.
The name derives from one Baron Munchhausen (Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Freiherr von Münchhausen, 1720-1797), to whom were ascribed a series of fantastically impossible tales written by Rudolf Raspe.