Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Lloyd Sealy Library

Lloyd Sealy Library

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Munchausen syndrome by proxy and child abuse

Researching a mental illness in the library

From the Fall 2014 newsletter

Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is an unusual mental illness where a caretaker falsifies a child’s illness. Sometimes the caretaker might go to the extreme of actually making the child sick. MedlinePlus also identifies MSBP as a form of child abuse. What is stranger still is that the caretakers who have MSBP often work in health care and do a good job describing and faking the symptoms.

Unfortunately, the cause of MSBP is unknown, and it is very hard to detect this form of child abuse when it happens. A child who has a long medical history with symptoms that do not match normal diseases might be a signal of something wrong.

The Library has several books specifically about MSBP (see right).  The Library of Congress subject heading is “Munchausen syndrome by proxy.” Tip: when performing a subject search at the CUNY+ catalog, a user can type in the Library of Congress subject heading in the search box and see a list of results under this subject heading. 

Another way to look up books about MSBP is to perform a search using the call number in the CUNY+ catalog, or by simply browsing the Library stacks. The Library of Congress classed MSBP under Medicine-Neurosciences-Psychiatry-Psychiatric aspects of personality and behavior conditions-Other personality disorders, behavior problems, situations, etc. (call number RC569.5 .M83). 

Tip: select the “call number” search type in the CUNY+ catalog and type in the call number, here RC569.5 .M83, in the search box. The search results will show a list of books classed under this subject heading. 

Here’s what how the Library of Congress classifies the subject.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
  • Narrower Topics:
    • Munchausen syndrome by proxy -- Case studies.
    • Munchausen syndrome by proxy -- Diagnosis.
    • Munchausen syndrome by proxy -- United States
    • Munchausen syndrome by proxy -- United States -- Case studies
    • Child abuse – Investigation
  • See From Tracing terms (see from reference from a topical term not used in an established L.C. Subject Heading):
    • MBPS (Syndrome)
    • Meadow syndrome
    • MSBP (Syndrome)
    • MSP (Syndrome)
    • Munchausen abuse
    • Munchausen by proxy syndrome
    • Munchausen proxy syndrome
    • Polle syndrome
  • See From Tracing terms (see also from reference from an established topical term to a related established L.C. Subject Heading): 
    • Child abuse
    • Munchausen syndrome

Selected resources from our collection

Lasher, Louisa J. Munchausen by proxy: identification, intervention, and case management. New York: Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press, 2004. RC569.5 .M83 L37 2004

Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy [electronic resource]: current issues in assessment, treatment and research. Ed. Gwen Adshead & Deborah Brooke. London : Imperial College Press, 2001. CUNY Online Resource.

Rister, Esther S. Child abuse in the medical guise: Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Thesis (Ph.D.)--City University of New York, 1996. John Jay College Special Collections, LD 3835 .A5 R57 1996

Artingstall, Kathryn. Practical aspects of Munchausen by proxy and Munchausen syndrome investigation. Boca Raton, FL : CRC Press, 1999. RC 569.5 .M83 A78 1999

Child neglect and Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Ed. United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1996. RC 569.5 .M83 C45 1996


Munchausen syndrome by proxy.”  MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 09 Oct. 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. 

Library of Congress Classification PDF Files”. The Library of Congress. 01 Oct. 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. 

Jing Si Feng

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