DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : MUNCHAUSEN SYNDROME BY PROXY
This particularly nasty syndrome involves a player portraying his partner , someone who is supposedly under his guidance and care , as the person with a serious disability or a crippling neurological condition. In either case , the perfectly healthy partner is duly classified by his mentor as some poor unfortunate sod , who is so severely handicapped that he has no real ability whatsoever to bid and play the cards properly....... when in fact the opposite is true.
Therefore, MSBP causes these self-proclaimed caring mentors to deny their illness by simply transferring " their sickness " onto others , and such is the nature of their disorder they cannot stop themselves telling lies about their partners' appalling symptoms. Typically , their partners will be relative beginners to the game, and as a consequence of their naivity loud , over zealous comments will be made at the table about their sickness induced errors. These alleged symptoms are flagged up to the world at large , when their concerned and helpful mentors make statements like
- you must be off your head
- what on earth possessed you to do that ?
- are you a moron or what ?
- you need serious help
- you're not all there, are you ?
- what medication are you on ?
Indeed many psycho-analysts, like myself , regard the behaviour of MSBP sufferers as abuse. Moreover , those with acute symptoms develop an amazing knack to create or exaggerate their partners' failings in so many different ways. They often tell huge porkies about what really happened during the auction , or the play of the hand. They also like to alter the details relating to the location of crucial cards, falsify the score sheets or cards , and to induce uncharacteristic behaviour from their poor beleaguered prey. This can be easily done by incorrect or over-elaborate analysis, deviations from the agreed bidding system , unfair criticism and constant needling. By getting their partners to explode, or blow a gasket, it then becomes an easy task to convince others in the room that it is their partners who have the serious psychological problems. By cleverly acting out the role of caring mentors , it is inevitable that their partners pick up the reputation of being demented, deranged , confrontational , deluded , and mentally ill. Onlookers can only believe in the evidence they see and hear , being completely unaware of the preceding provocation which cleverly triggered these emotional outbursts.
Studies have shown that players with MSBP tend to share the following common characteristics :
1. Married but with no children
2. A wife who is nothing more than a mother substitute
3. Possessing a dangerously limited knowledge on medical/ neurological matters
4. Desperate to rub shoulders with medical experts and health professionals
5. Always craving for attention and adulation for being a caring, warmhearted , selfless, patient, and devoted mentor
6. A control freak
7. Supremely gifted at holding court
By getting others to believe that their partners are the victims of a serious mental disorder, then any effort on their part to help them to get through a duplicate session without incident will clearly be viewed by everyone as noble, worthy and utterly commendable sacrifices. It means nothing to them if partners do become psychologically damaged by their experiences of being labelled as " handicapped " : because now their factitious disorders have become a reality.
Such is the potential level of abuse , MSBP sufferers must be seen as dangerous criminals , whereupon every effort must be made to identify them..... and to drive them out , before turning one's attention to those who desperately need their shattered egos to be repaired and rebuilt.