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Causes - Munchausen's syndrome

Munchausen's syndrome is complex and poorly understood. The disorder may be caused by a combination of psychological factors and stressful life experiences.

Many people refuse psychiatric treatment or psychological profiling. It can be unclear why people with the syndrome behave the way they do.

Risk factors

Several factors may increase the risk of developing Munchausen's syndrome.

These include:

  • childhood trauma, such as emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • previous medical history, such as a serious illness during childhood
  • loss of a loved one through death, illness or abandonment
  • a poor sense of identity or self-esteem
  • personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder
  • depression
  • the desire to be associated with doctors or medical staff

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 1 September 2022
Next review due: 1 September 2025