What Is Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome? 'Sharp Objects' Alludes To The Serious Condition
This week's episode of Sharp Objects is the penultimate installment of the story, focusing on the arrest of a suspect and the closing of the case by a very eager police chief. But the story was never really about the murders, as much as it was an excuse to put Adora and both her living daughters in the same house together, in what may turn out to be the most explosive situation imaginable. Most seem to think Camille and Amma are the crazy ones, but what if it's really Adora? And what is Munchausen-By-Proxy syndrome? Warning: Spoilers For Sharp Objects follow. This post only discusses the happenings in the TV series so far.
So what is MBP? As Nurse Beverly explains to Detective Willis, it's an offshoot of another mental disorder, Munchausen syndrome. This is a "factitious disorder," where a patient repeatedly acts as if they have a physical or mental illness when they are not really sick but are actually emotionally driven for one reason or another to create physical symptoms as a form of acting out to display their emotional distress.
The "By Proxy" version is when someone does it by poisoning someone else in the family to make them look as if they are ill, usually a child or an elderly person, again to gain attention and also admiration as the long-suffering caretaker. Today the disease has been renamed to FDIA, which stands for "Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another."
The show never comes out and says this week Adora has this disorder. But from the getgo, everything points that way. After Adora all but ordered Camille out of the house, she has taken her drugged up, hung over daughters, put both of them in innocent white nighties, and stuck them in their beds, with apparent plans to keep them there and administer homemade "medicines" to both.
Camille's flashback to her mother trying to force her to stay in bed as a child before refusing to drink whatever concoction is in the blue bottle is instructive. Camille has always fought back. She just didn't know she was fighting someone who was trying to poison her, then or now.
But as both Willis and Camille learn this week, it wasn't something people missed. Jackie knew. This is why she was always so kindly towards Camille. She knew her mother was a horror, and she loved the girl for fighting back, even as she understood how Marian, and now Amma could submit to it because it was just "easier."
But Jackie and the nurse weren't the only ones. Vickery knew, his response to Willis makes it clear he knew and turned a blind eye, maybe even took steps to protect Adora all those years ago, figuring it was an accident that couldn't happen twice.
Or could it? After all, Amma is "sick." And her friends were told not to come back.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).