Mary Sanders

Clinical Professor of Psychiatry

Mary J. Sanders, Ph.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Professor at the Department of Psychiatry of Stanford University Medical School. Dr. Sanders is co-Chair of the Committee on Munchausen by Proxy Abuse (APSAC) and part of the National Task Force on Munchausen by Proxy.  Dr. Sanders is author of many books on forensic assessment of illness falsification, Munchausen by proxy, and factitious disorder.

MUNCHAUSEN: Seeking admiration and sympathy, and sometimes money

Attention-seeking is necessary for survival. The baby cries to get his mother’s attention, is fed, and lives to cry another day. But what happens when this process is reversed? What happens when someone places their or their child’s survival at risk to obtain attention? Munchausen Syndrome is a condition in which someone falsely presents themselves as ill, and Munchausen by Proxy child abuse, is when someone, usually a parent, falsifies illness on behalf of the child, to obtain admiration and sympathy. The theorized pathology beneath this dangerous and abusive attention-seeking will be explored. I will also describe the phenomena of “Munchausen by Internet” and how social media has been employed to help the investigator determine falsification and attention-seeking behaviors and may help protect children.