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90 yrs. old and when mom gets bored or not getting enough attention she comes up with a new ailment and another doctor visit on the horizon. She has cried wolf so many times I don't believe anything anymore but must humor her in the event that for once the ailment may be real. This has become such a vicious circle and I don't know how I can ever get her to be truthful.
She's been obsessive about the medical profession as far back as I can remember and it's only getting worse. Mom seems to have no conscience or inkling that what she is doing is wrong in any way. The docs have told me "there is no sign of dementia", but I'd like to know if she is a sociopath.
Mom is quite healthy for 90 and I have come to resent the fact that so many out there are really suffering while she imagines ailments to get attention. I find this truly repulsive and smacks in the face of everything I believe in.
My mother disgusts me and I am at a loss.

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Right there with you guys!! My dad is 62- and currently in the hospital for the 5th time since dec 24.
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Sakura, you say you "all" (who's included in the all, by the way?) want to move back to Canada but your mother doesn't because she will lose her benefits.

Okay, so your mother doesn't want to go. But what's stopping the rest of you?
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My mum is only 47, I wish she was in her 80s so that all her crap would end with her soon. I know what you're thinking, what a terrible thing to say. My mother has faked broken bones, seizures, hospital visits and cancer numerous times. It stopped when I was 12 and then started again when I was 17. Moving countries she was able to play the same ailments over again. cutting off her hair getting a walker, having seizures in front of her religious friends who would tell me she was having seizure today. in which I would roll my eyes and tell them "that's funny, never in my life has she ever had a seizure in front of me and I live with her, maybe it's you". I have nothing but resentment for that woman, when she talks about her being sick I ignore her. When she pretends to nearly fall over I laugh at her. She doesn't pretend much in front of me anymore because she knows she won't get sympathy from me. Sometimes I just wish she was gone. I went through foster care and sexual abuse because of my mother. because she's selfish. We all want to move back to Canada but she doesn't want to leave England because she will lose her benifits. I kid you not, 10 minutes ago her therapy worker was here and she was screaming a fake cry that would win a 5 year old any oscar. You know that fake cry no tears that is a result of not getting what they want. Well 2 hours of that, the therapy worker is gone and my mum is up playing with the dog making dinner as if it never happened. I fear the day that she drives me insane. I have no choice but to live with her. I'm glad I'm not alone but also sad others have to deal with this. Just ignore it. do not give into them and distance yourself emotionally. that's my only advice.
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My mother had a life which revolved around the doctor. As she got older she insisted they saw her at home. All she ever talked about was her ailments. She carried nothing about anything else. Last year my daughter and I went to see her. Lots of news. Daughter going to university, son learning to drive and I was putting our house on the market. She said that's nice then told me all about her sore leg (nobody cares, not long for this world etc) for the next 30 minutes. My mother was fit and healthy when she wanted to be. I think this behaviour was based in a need to be thought about and cared about. She loved being in hospital. She died in December when she fell over banging her head and having a bleed in the brain. A sad way to go but it wasn't any of the many conditions my mother thought she had.
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Oh my goodness, I'm crying sitting here because you all understand. My mother is just like this. Today she is at the doctors again. She gets mad when they find nothing wrong with her. She is at the doctor at least once a month. When the phone rings and I see it's her I immediately tense up because she will either be sick (known by the shortness of breath she talks with or with tears but mysteriously disappears in a few minutes) or she is calling to complain about something. Her words are always, I'm such a pain in the a**, I hate to bother you. I go to counseling and this last time all I did was talk about my mother. I love her, but I don't like her behavior. She's lonely....I know. I work and go to school part time, my husband works, my brother works, my sister in law works and all the grandchildren are in school. We all have lives and we talk to her a couple of times a week each. It's not enough for her. I told her to volunteer someplace, nope. I mentioned maybe seeing a counselor...nope. The one time she actually had a problem was a few years back and we didn't believe her until her uterus prolapsed and was hanging out. Kind of hard to put that on. I just don't know what to do anymore. I'm starting to resent her, and I don't like it.
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Hello I just came across this forum and I don't know why i did not look sooner.I am not the only one! I am a 51 year old single mother with a 13 year old daughter. My Mother has lived with us for the past 13 years. She has ALWAYS been a hypochondriac but lately I feel as if i am at the end of my rope. My daughters really do not have a good relationship with her because she has never acted like a grandmother because she is so self absorbed in her so called illnesses. She has never once taken my daughters out anywhere except a grocery store.I try to ignore her but she makes sure everyone in the house can hear her moaning and groaning. When I challenge her she threatens suicide. Just this evening she said she was going to look at a one way ticket to Amsterdam for assisted suicide because she just can't live like this. I am so tired of the cry wolf talk. She is such a negative person and i always try to be positive but it is dragging me down Help!
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Hello Tess73. I hear you on your plight. For me, this is my MIL and I have a bit more compassion than my poor husband who has lived with it all his life.

There are several books on Amazon that deal with hypochondriasis and I've read their previews. I understand that for the patient, it's a manifestation of fear and depression and their "cry" is physical. I'm assuming their brain is making it a physical issue but I haven't read the books yet.

Please keep us informed. It's comforting to have support even just to vent.
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While this is an old thread, I'm responding since it's had recent activity. Also, I have GOOD news with my situation. I would keep in mind that even though we as family members see these ailments and complaints as fake, contrived, manipulation, and attention seeking, KEEP IN MIND, that those ailments are often the symptoms of DEPRESSION and ANXIETY. They may actually have those ailments, but they are brought on by their depression and anxiety. I have dealt with it for years with my loved one. It's extremely frustrating and can really cause you mental distress trying to cope. It is quite debilitating. It affects the entire family.

FINALLY, my loved one ended up in the ER one more time due to her anxiety and depression. (She's had many trips, just to discover, nothing is actually wrong.) An MRI and other tests ruled out physical causes. FINALLY, she is listening to her Primary, starting on medication and is SEEING A PSYCHIATRIST! She is the one who said she wanted it. The pain has gotten that bad. So, for all of you who are dealing with this, please hold on. I had to gently push, but we got it accomplished.
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Thanks so much!!! We will check it out.
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National Alliance for Mentally Ill. (and their families)
NAMI Rutherford County, TN
(800) 467-3589
(615) 763-5711
Monthly Support Group Meetings
2nd Thursday. 7:00 p.m.
Trustpoint Hospital
1009 N. Thompson Lane
Murfeesboro, TN 37129
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It is comforting that we are not the only ones dealing with this issue. I've read all 51 responses and have come to these conclusions: (since most posts were about mothers I'll use the "her" pronoun)

1) Whatever it's called (Munchausen, factitious disorder, hypochondria, hoarding, mental illness) the patient most likely will not acknowledge and refuse any suggestion that her problem is psychological. If the subject of psychological help us breached, it will have to be done gently, but chances are very small that help in this way will be accepted.

2). To keep ones sanity, it is best to set boundaries, not reward poor behavior, disengage and divert the conversation to other topics when conversing.

3). Use your best intuition to determine what's real and what's not. If possible go to appointments with her and be open and honest with the doctors. This is difficult as the patient prefers to control the information family members receive. And there are many different doctors.

If I'm leaving anything out please let me know. But here is my question: are there support groups for family members dealing with these issues with their parents? Like Adult Children of Alcoholics, except on this issue? There seems to be quite a number of folks that deal with this and bitterness, anger, lack of empathy and feeling neglected, just to name a few, are not soon healed with this chronic issue.

Would love to hear any suggestions. Thanks!!!
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I'm so sorry to hear of your daughter's situation luddmouse. I know what it's like. I have two family members with a form of psychologically brought on illnesses. One was diagnosed with Conversion disorder and even as a senior, he sought help and has been in recovery for a couple years with only one relapse. (He saw a psychiatrist and takes meds.) I am thrilled.

Sadly, the other person in my family is still in huge denial and I don't think she will ever change. I've begged her to go on meds for anxiety, depression, etc., but she refuses. She claims she can't take the medication. It makes her feel funny. lol I have learned that these patients develop a fear of medication, because their brain does not want them to recover.

It's so frustrating to see the person so miserable and seemingly suffering in pain and illness, but it's just their brain making them that way. I've read a lot about treatment and sadly, when it's a severe case, the patient is so resistant, that they just can't be reached. I can't imagine the pain of not having your daughter in your life. I hope things change. God bless you.

What I learned from my experience is that this type of illness is a family issue. If we had dealt with it directly from the early stages, things might be different. I suggested it, but was shut down. It's sad, because there are years of misery as a result and the family suffers too.
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our daughter was a RN she is always sick illness after illness, she knows all symptoms and is constantly on the web to find more, she has been hospitalized more times than I can count, has had more surgeries and is on more pain meds than you can count. her children and spouse had an intervention, she took off and went to an old friend states away, only to return a few weeks later, she said no one understands the pain she is in, needs the morphine for the rest of her life.she walks around like a zombie, how can such a brilliant mind not see what she is doing to herself and her family, and why, do doctors keep giving her these meds. she is always going to a new dr. or er.
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After I wrote the last message I remembered why I learned so much about Munchausen. I had been familiar with it for a while after seeing a TV magazine report on Munchausen by proxy, in which parents were making their children deathly ill. When I was working with an HIV/AIDS group, I had a friend who was living with his mother. He had AIDS. He kept talking about symptoms he was having that sounded so much like strychnine poisoning that I wondered if he was being poisoned either on purpose or accidentally. His mother was a wonderful woman, but quite an unusual person who was into heavy spirit-beyond type things similar to voodooism. I started doing some heavy research on factitious disorders, trying to answer my own uneasiness. At the time AIDS was lethal, but the young man didn't need a sickening push to help him along his way. He ended up dying faster than I would have thought, so I never got any answers.
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Thanks for the correction, JessieBelle. Fascinating, chilling subject.
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CWillie, interesting insight and perspective on the progression of medical diagnosis and treatment. I hadn't thought of pills from that perspective.
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I think our parents in their 90's have lived during a time of enormous evolution in modern medicine. As a small child my mom lost her little brother from a childhood illness that would today be easily treated with antibiotics, she herself almost succumbed to diphtheria and presumably suffered through all the childhood illnesses we routinely vaccinate against today. Knowledge of how to prevent common cancers, heart disease, and stroke with lifestyle changes is really a pretty recent thing. Even in the late 70's when my parents had heart problems they were told their cholesterol levels were fine, we didn't yet know to differentiate between LDL, HDL and triglycerides. I can imagine what a miracle it must have seemed to be given a little pill to treat what were once much feared diseases, no wonder they still look to them for miracles today.
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Easy to do, Munchausen has always been a special interest of mine, so I've read a lot. I don't know why, since I don't know anyone with it. I just think it is fascinating in its own disturbed way. What a nightmare it would be for doctors/nurses.
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Jessie, thanks for catching my mistake; I missed that one.
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Munchausen is actually doing things to yourself to make yourself appear ill. It can be things like taking laxatives, then saying you have diarrhea. Or it can be making up symptoms that you know fit a certain disease, then have medical people chasing around to see what is wrong. Some people are experts on finding ways to fake symptoms, often harming themselves in the process.

Making someone else sick for attention is called Munchausen by proxy. Sometimes mothers do this with their children.

These factitious disorders are quite serious and are a mental illness that doesn't go away by itself.

Hypochondria is what we see most often. It is dwelling on one's own health and thinking everything indicates sickness. Bump on the arm? Cancer! Cough? TB! My mother is a total hypochondriac who cries wolf so much that I don't listen anymore. That is the danger of hypochondria. When you do really get ill, no one pays any attention.
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For hypochondriacs of the younger generation we have sites like web MD. My wife can spend a few minutes there and find that between us we have 6 to 8 terminal illnesses.
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Realtime, you're right on the distinction between hypochondria and Munchhausen's. I think the OP really didn't understand those issues, but the OP posted some time ago and perhaps isn't even around to check updates on this thread. Good point though.
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FF, many people don't go outside to walk any more. They go to a gym, at which they likely have had to sign an agreement to use the facilities which includes an indemnification and hold harmless clause if they're injured.

Then they either walk on a treadmill, staring at a large screen tv, or the walls, or the butts of other walkers in front of them.

Great way to get some fresh exercise. I'll take the woods, paths on country roads, strolls along the beach...any time!
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Jessie, same here I am trying to cut back on what meds I take. I use to take a prescription for acid relux and found that good old fashioned Tums helped me much better. Same with pain pills, tossed those, give me aspirin [I realize not everyone can take them].

My ex-Mom-in-law keeps a small bowl of cooked white rice which she will heat up a couple of table spoons to help with a tummy issue.

If I feel nervous, I found vacuuming helped me. But that made the cats nervous, oh well, they will live through it ;
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Just a clarification: As I understand it, Munchhausen's is a condition in which a person deliberately makes other people sick --- not him or herself --- in order to get attention. Hypochondria is a condition in which one suffers from fear of illness, rather than actually being ill. My mother's apparent hypochondria disappeared after changes in her living situation and medications relieved her intense anxiety.
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GardenArtist, I agree, we here in the States are too fixated on taking pills to cure our ills. So many things could be helped just by going outside for a brisk walk, but we as a society are too busy to do that, so just hand me a pill :P

I know whenever a doctor says for me to get a prescription, I ask for the children's dosage. Good heavens, why give me an adult prescription where one size fits all.... doesn't make sense.
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Windy, your parents sound just like my parents... I, too, wish their doctor would make a house call to tell them to cut down the heat and to clean their carpets !! My parents never listened to me.
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The "take this pill" or "that pill" is I think a reflection of the migration of the medical profession toward seeing medicine as the primary source of treatment, as opposed to natural treatments. There are still doctors that embrace the latter and blend their practices so they offer a combination of both natural healthy options as well as medication. But it does take some effort to locate them.

Although I don't have anything other than anecdotal evidence and haven't done research on this issue, I suspect that big pharma's lobbying efforts of doctors play a major role in "convincing" doctors that medicine is the first choice of treatment.

I do recall reading sometime in the last few years that one of the major hospitals in this area issued letters to their physicians denying them the option of accepting any kinds of gratuities from pharmaceutical reps. At least one hospital in our area is taking a stand on this abuse by pharma reps.
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Know what you mean, Windy. My mother thinks pills are magic. Feeling depressed? Don't get out in the sunshine, just take a pill. Can't poop? Don't eat a romaine salad, just take a pill. Feeling nervous? Don't get busy and exercise, just take a pill. High blood pressure? Don't cut out the salt, just take a pill. And if the pills don't work, just take another. Living life as a test tube, adding a little bit more chemical to see if it makes it right. I do hope I never get to this point. Right now I am pill free and plan on keeping it that way for as long as I can.
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Interesting discussion. Got me to thinking about how many of our parents idolize doctors. Remember all the shows on TV? Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, Marcus Welby MD.........These guys were godly figures. They could do no wrong. I'm not a doc basher at all, but younger folks will get a second opinion and do a little reading on line. My folks wouldn't dare question anything their docs order.

My folks are in their mid 80's and I wouldn't call them hypochondriacs but instead of any kind of healthy activity or diet, it's take this pill and take that pill. My mother hasn't done anything healthy for 40 years. Ive been trying for 4 years to get them to get their carpets cleaned. If their doc walked in and and told them to clean the carpet Stanley Steamer would be there the next day.
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