25 Shocking Cases Of Munchausen Syndrome That Are Truly Disturbing

Munchausen Syndrome is when someone fakes being sick so they can get sympathy or attention. Unlike hypochondria, where a person fears they are ill, those with this syndrome are, well, to put it bluntly, looking for attention. It’s considered a mental disorder because it’s often accompanied by emotional issues.  The even scarier version is Munchausen by Proxy, wherein someone claims their child or spouse is ill in order to gain sympathy. This is abuse and sometimes results in their death. And even still, there are others who fake illness just to make a profit off of the good charity of others. Looking for examples? Here are 25 Shocking Cases Of Munchausen Syndrome That Are Truly Disturbing.


Belle Gibson was a famous healthy lifestyle blogger from Australia who claimed to have been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. She claimed to have shrunk her tumor with a diet that excluded coffee, sugar, dairy, and grain. She wrote a book about it, and even collected charity money. Except it was all a lie. And the money never got to the charities.

BelleGibsonSource: http://www.independent.co.uk

A woman in the UK named Lisa Hayden-Johnson had a son born prematurely in 2001. While the boy did need specialized medical care and a feeding tube at first, he did, in fact, get better. However, his mother still needed the attention and started telling everyone that he was quite ill with food allergies and required a feeding tube. She also claimed he was in a wheelchair and suffered from cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy and needed several operations for these various issues. She even went on TV in the UK and met the Duchess of Cornwall. Donations included a new car, vacations, and a decent bit of cash. After six years, a pediatrician caught on to her scheme; Lisa Hayden-Johnson ended up with three years and three months in prison for her crimes.

sickboySource: http://listverse.com


A woman named Dee Dee Blancharde was murdered by her daughter, Gypsy, after forcing Gypsy to play the part of an ill teen for years. Gypsy was given medications she didn't need, forced to pretend she had leukemia and muscular distrophy, and even use a feeding tube and undergo surgeries she didn't need. This is technically torture. Gypsy had no other friends because her mother kept her isolated and even forced her to stay confined to a wheelchair when she was fully able to walk. In fact, Gypsy didn't even know her true age as Dee Dee told her she was a decade younger than she was. HBO did a documentary about the two called "Mommy Dead and Dearest." To be fair, Dee Dee is getting at lot of media attention now....

deedeandgypsySource: https://www.bustle.com/

Marybeth Tinning is perhaps one of the most well known cases of Munchhausen by Proxy, though her crimes were committed before there was such a term. It's unsure how many of her children she smothered and how many did in fact die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), but her death count is somewhere between 2 and 9 children. She is currently serving time for the deaths of three of her children. Although she's been up for parole every 2 years or so, she has yet to show significant remorse to allow her out of prison.

9-1-Marybeth-TinningSource: http://murderpedia.org/


In March of 2015, a Chicago area gay rights activist named Adam Hoover took to social media stating that he'd been kidnapped and thrown in the trunk of a car, and that his kidnappers were going to kill his family. He even gave a description and tag number of the vehicle. Turns out the whole thing was a hoax, and no one is sure why it was done in the first place.

carSource: http://www.nbcnews.com/

Photo Credits: Feature Image: wikimedia commons (public domain; speech bubbles & text added), 25. thestar.com, (fair use; illustrative use only, no free sources available), 24. pixabay (public domain;not actual child shown), 23. huntakiller.com (fair use; illustrative use only, no free sources available), 22. wikimedia commons (public domain: mugshot//fair use; illustrative use only, no free sources available), 21. Max Pixel (public domain), 20. Max Pixel (public domain), 19. Max Pixel (public domain), 18. wikimedia commons (public domain), 17. deadspin.com (fair use; illustrative use only, no free sources available), 16. Dwight Burdette, Saint Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church Freedom Township Michigan, CC BY 3.0, 15. Max Pixel (public domain),14. wikimedia commons (public domain), 13. pexels (public domain), 12. Jerry “Woody” via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 11. pexels (public domain), 10. opposingviews.com (fair use; illustrative use only, no free sources available), 9 max pixel, (public domain), 8. Derhai, TrumanStateEntranceEnlarged, CC BY-SA 3.0, 7. The original uploader was TBAmes at English Wikipedia, StLouisChildrensHospital.jpg,  CC BY-SA 3.0 unported, 6.  Eric Schmuttenmaer via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 5. star-telegram.com (public domain: mugshot//fair use; illustrative use only, no free sources available), 4. wikimedia commons (public domain), 3. Nabokov at English Wikipedia, CoffinShopWarsaw, CC BY 3.0, 2. pixabay (public domain), 1. Dubravko Sorić SoraZG on Flickr, Salt shaker on white background, CC BY 2.0

SEE ALSO: 25 Life Hacks That Actually Don't Help Make Your Life Better »

NOW WATCH: 25 Strangely Unique Schools You Won't Believe Exist

Subscribe to List25

What do you think?

1 point
Upvote Downvote
25 Most Brilliant Criminals In History

25 Most Brilliant Criminals In History

25 Disturbing Modern Torture Methods

25 Disturbing Modern Torture Methods