Munchausen Mom: Expert

Munchausen Mom: Expert

Dr. Judith Libow is Director of Psychological Services at Children's Hospital Oakland in California, and author of, Hurting for Love, Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.

Dr. Phil asks about how people with the disorder get away with their abuse. "They actually really ingratiate themselves with the healthcare professionals, right?"

"Some 85 to 95 percent of the people engaged in this are mothers, unfortunately," says Dr. Libow. "They tend to be very good imposters at looking like the ideal parent. They impress people often in healthcare centers in terms of being devoted to their children. They're very good liars, unfortunately, in many cases. They have long histories of deception. They're very medically knowledgeable. They use terminology. They seem devoted to their kids. They're seemingly doing the right thing in terms of bringing their children for medical care. And doctors often don't see it or get caught up in a relationship with this parent in a way that makes it very difficult for them to challenge the parent or sometimes to even see what's going on with these moms."

"What's the prognosis for these folks?" asks Dr. Phil.

She replies, "Well, unfortunately, treatment has not proven to be very effective in many cases with these moms. In fact denial, as we saw on the tape with Tracy, tends to be the predominant response of these parents even often when found on videotape actively harming their kids, they tend to continue to insist that they are not doing this, that they're being misunderstood, that someone is setting them up, so what you need to start with is a parent willing to even acknowledge that this is happening."

"Tracy clearly wasn't," says Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil invites a special guest on stage. It's young Elizabeth, Tracy's latest victim. She laughs and looks for her daddy in the audience.

Dr. Phil says, "Pam and Jessie have stepped up and taken in Tracy's children, and we're going to make any and every resource we can available to help support you guys and what you're doing, and some companies want to help out as well."

Each family receives a $500 gift certificate that can be used at Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, a $100-a-week gift card for groceries from Winn-Dixie for an entire 52 weeks. "That's a total of over $10,000 for these kids!" says Dr. Phil cheerfully. Plus, each of the children receives $500 cash to use as he or she wishes and a $500 gift certificate for shoes from Zappos.