Experts talk impacts of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)—A Wichita Falls mother is in the national spotlight after investigators say her 4-year-old son was hospitalized more than 200 times over fake ailments.

Megan Gee, 30, was arrested in Wichita Falls last week for serious bodily injury to a child.

According to the arrest affidavit, Gee’s 4-year-old son was taken to a medical professional 227 times in just four years accounting for at least 33 percent of his life.

CPS investigators believe Gee could have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

Doctors do not know what causes this behavior and even though experts don’t want to speculate on the Gee case they say in most instances the parent, typically the mother wants to be the center of attention.

“I encourage everybody if they suspect any form of abuse with children regardless of age to act on it,” Children’s Aid Society Executive Director Sheila Catron said.

For almost 26 years, Sheila Catron has worked with children who have suffered some form of abuse or neglect, one of which, though rare, is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

“That’s usually when a child is getting treated for unnecessary illnesses,” Catron said.

Parents with this disorder intentionally make up illnesses a child has or in some cases makes the child sick.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. David Sabine said they do this to gain the attention and the most difficult thing about this disorder is the parents’ denial.

“The only recourse is to remove the children and if the parent is willing which is rare, years of psychotherapy, there is no medication you can take, there is not any kind of quick fix,” Sabine said

And Sabine said doctors prescribe medications out of the good faith of the mother.

“Usually the things that the mother alleges the child is suffering from or that she has created in the child are vague, like pain or chronic migraines,” Sabine said. “Anytime you present for medical treatment the doctor is going to take the most simple and direct approach to treat the symptoms so it doesn’t occur to the doctor that this could be completely false”.

Once the doctor suspects something and the children are removed from these situations though, all is not lost.

“Children who tend to suffer abuse and neglect, when they are removed and brought into our environment, a shelter environment, a foster care environment, they will assimilate with their new environment,” Catron said.

Both Catron and Sabine said any suspicion of this disorder should be reported the sooner it is sighted the better.

Research shows that about one percent of people meet the criteria for mental illness but there is no statistic on how many people suffer from the disorder.

Sabine also said if this goes on long at about 11-years-old, children become more aware and understand that something is wrong.

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