Münchausen Syndrome

Other Known Aliasesfactitious disorder imposed on self

Definitionintentional falsification of physical and/or mental signs and symptoms in oneself, or in another individual, for no obvious external gain or reward

Clinical SignificanceFalling under the factitious disorders section of the DSM-V 300.19 (ICD-10 – F68.10), patients deceptively misrepresent, simulate, or cause symptoms of an illness or injury in themselves, even in the absence of obvious external rewards such as financial gain, housing, or medications.

HistoryNamed after Hieronymus Karl Friedrich von Münchhausen (1720-1797), who was a German aristocrat and military veteran. He was best known for telling elaborate stories at aristocratic dinner parties where he would embellish his tales of being a soldier and huntsman. It was during these dinner parties that he met Rudolf Erich Raspe, who was a German writer, scientist, and con artist. He found these stories so alluring and entertaining that he used them (almost verbatim) in a series of publications describing these adventures of the titular character Baron von Munchausen. Münchhausen took offense to his noble name being used to entertain commoners and attempted litigious retribution against Raspe for many years to no avail. This story did not reach eponymous notoriety until 1951 when Dr. Richard Asher published an article in The Lancet entitled “Munchausen’s Syndrome” did the eponym stick.


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. Up To Date. www.uptodate.com
  6. ASHER R. Munchausen’s syndrome. Lancet (London, England). 1951; 1(6650):339-41. [pubmed]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s