Monday, January 12, 2015

Bloggers beware

Blogging about your chronically ill or disabled child could be incriminating.

Apparently a disturbing number of mothers who do just that suffer from Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome. (a.k.a. Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another). They induce their children’s illness in order to bask in the attention and sympathy of the medical staff.

While relatively rare, three such cases were recently diagnosed in Seattle Children's Hospital. Several children’s protection professionals at that hospital published a study of the phenomenon in Child Abuse and Neglect entitled "Care taker blogs in caregiver fabricated illness in a child: A window on the caretaker's thinking".

Before you panic and shut your blog down, here are three blog features that the Seattle folks cited as red flags or, as they put it: “provide additional direct evidence of the suspected caregivers’ fabrications."
  1. The mothers grossly distorted the information received from medical providers, describing in their blogs an escalation of the severity of their children's illnesses.
  2. They reported contacting palliative care teams and Wish organizations, independently from their medical providers’ recommendations.
  3. They sought on-line donations for their children's health needs.
I wrote about one such mother whose infliction of pain and illness on her child eventually killed him, last June (here).
Garnett Spears, 5, and his mother Lacey, a few days before he died
These deranged mothers could sully the reputations of the innocent majority who blog to share the benefits of their experience and for their own solace.

Here’s hoping the caregiver-mother blogosphere rides this one out. It’s made our burden so much easier for so many of us.

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