Sign up for the Dr. Phil Newsletter
Twitter Facebook YouTube

2013 Shows

 
Tina, 52, says she has Munchausen Syndrome, a serious mental disorder in which someone with a deep need for attention pretends to be sick or gets injured on purpose. She says that for the past two decades, she’s been injecting herself with homegrown bacteria, including fecal matter, causing huge wounds that she keeps infected -- some for up to a year -- in order to receive attention from others. Despite countless hospitalizations and more than 40 surgeries, Tina says she can’t stop hurting herself and currently has a wound that landed her in the hospital for nine days. Tina’s husband, Sam, and daughters, Amy, 19, and Shelby, 18, say Tina’s disorder has taken a huge toll on their family. How can they help her get well? Then, Samantha says for more than 20 years, she got a rush from fooling doctors by faking strokes, seizures and schizophrenia, among other illnesses. She says she was so good at faking seizures, she was once placed in a medically-induced coma for a week. Samantha says she now considers herself to be in remission from Munchausen Syndrome -- but has she replaced it with a risky addiction? Dr. Phil is joined by The Doctors’ recurring co-host Dr. Ian Smith, infectious disease specialist Dr. Joseph Carlisle and psychiatrist Dr. Marc Feldman to discuss this mental illness and the chances of recovery. The following program contains graphic medical images. Viewer discretion is advised.

Find out what happened on the show.
Comments
Replied By: goldenbeach on Dec 27, 2013, 11:21PM
Tina's husband is a perfect example of an enabler.  Pandering to this woman's sickness and bringing her unsuitable food.  Can't he see that her future is limited?
 
Replied By: braveheartlion on Nov 6, 2013, 12:19AM - In reply to emfanatic
I spent so many years being duped by her and taking care of her.. When my daughter was diagnosed with Autism, it still didn't end. She never wants to spend time with us unless we're doing something for her, cleaning her house, getting her medication, or taking care of her. She just uses us for attention, she doesn't take her medicine so that her symptoms get worse. I just wish for once when we're going through things she could be there for us. But it's always about her. You guys call it a disorder, I think you guys are really just manipulating everything in to being all about you. Everyone should have their chance to shine and then have real sympathy when they're going through things. You guys with munchhausens don't have time for others. Ever stop to think the nurses who take care of you are going through things? Look at the girls crying in the videos, and their mom isn't there for them because she's too busy making everything about her! I see how giddy my mom gets when she has her attention, when everyone is catering to her, and yet when we need her she's never there!!! It makes me so mad! I'm sorry I have no sympathy but you ppl make me so mad!!!! I just wish I had a mom!!! All my life she's accused me of faking things, she's ignored me when I talk about bad things that are happening to me, it never occured to me it was because she was jealous that the spotlight was off of her. How can I accept this?! How can I deal with this?!
 
Replied By: dogluver1970 on Oct 14, 2013, 2:43PM - In reply to upsydasy

but  with all do respect, you're the one who's comparing apples and oranges.

Please enlighten me as to when I said that anyone should be grieved "less" because they died of cancer at an "old-ish" age?? 68, to me, is young these days - but that whole point is irrelevent, as EVERYTHING is relative. But you're missing my entire point. I have a LOT of empathy - you don't know me from a hole in the wall. But according to you, I can't have empathy for both these suffering women (yes, suffering) AND have empathy for those who have cancer, or other serious/life-threatening illnesses? I have to CHOOSE?? With all due respect, THAT'S apples and oranges., ma'am.  

 

I, too, have had family members (including myself) who have struggled with physical illness. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma when I was 9 (in 1979) and miraculously, with a lot of luck and great doctors/medicine, survived, and is now in her 70s. I've had a chronic GI illness for 20 years, Crohn's Disease (I've had 3 major surgeries, 20 + hospitalizations) and you don't think I understand physical illness and pain??   However, I can grieve the loss of my 20s and 30s, whereby I virtually had to 'drop out of life,' yet still have empathy for those with mental disorders. They suffer just as much, if not more, than those with physical disorder - esp because of the stignma. That's why I say YOU'RE the one comparing apples and oranges: someone who suffers from MS (and their families) doesn't take away from the suffering of someone (and their families) from cancer.  

To put it another way, say the apple = physical illness and the orange = mental illness. Do you think that these women are to directly blame for the loss of your mother, at age 68?? (and yes, I understand the resources they use up, but we could go all day with that one - about about the billions of dollars that illegal aliens cost us in ER visits alone? So for the sake of argument, let's not go there, and I'll assume that you felt like your Mom got the best care possible, throughout (and I hope she did). Though when someone dies, it's human nature to want someone to 'blame'. (eg, some people sue doctors, when there was clearly no negligence, but again one thing has nothing to do with another). But I digress...


 
Replied By: upsydasy on Oct 12, 2013, 10:19AM - In reply to dogluver1970
These women know as much about medicine as any doctor and still continue to make themselves sick on purpose just to get attention.  A woman who dies of breast cancer at 70 is still a great loss to her husband and loved ones.  My mother died of this very ‘REAL’ disease too at 68 despite her best efforts to say alive, so should that make us miss her less because she almost made it into old age?  I think not.  You can’t compare apples and oranges.  Tina was placed under psychiatric care at least 8 times and continues to ignore any and all advise to this day.  Despite everything, she still continues to deliberately and consciously make and inject herself with bacteria.  Unlike this poor man’s wife who passed away through no fault of her own and whom he still mourns which is beautiful, these two women don’t care what they’re doing to their families as long as their own selfish needs are met again and again and again.  How dare you compare the two cases and how dare you denigrate this man’s loss.  Where is YOUR empathy.  Munchausen is a syndrome and a mental disorder, not an illness and part of what makes these women different from another seriously ill patient is that they don't want to get better.  They are a drain on everyone they encounter.
 
Replied By: dogluver1970 on Oct 11, 2013, 5:15PM - In reply to imperatrice
To some degree, ALL of us have experienced dealing with serious and/or life threatening medical disorders whether it be our own, or those of a loved one. So while I understand people feeling anger towards those who fake an illness - don't forget - the illness they actually have might cause them to suffer more than you might even know. I, too, think that too many here are so judgmental towards these very sick women.

To the gentleman whose wife died of breast cancer: I'm sorry for your loss too. But you said that you two were married for 50 years?? So I assume that when your wife died, she was at least in her 70, but remember, everything's relative. What about the young mother who gets breast cancer and dies in her 30s?? I don't mean to invalidate your pain over the loss of your wife, but that has NOTHING to do with the very real illness of Munchausen's Syndrome. Instead of displacing your hurt and anger at the loss of your wife on somebody who's suffering mentally (and physically) probably more than you could imagine, you should focus on healing from your own loss and try and find some compassion for people who are mentally ill. Honestly, you think they honestly want to suffer as they do?!? Think about it..

I'm not saying that there isn't room for some 'tough love' in therapy for these women, However, there's a big difference between tough love and being judgmental towards others - esp those who are ill - is quite anothe.r
 
Replied By: ajcbabydoll on Oct 11, 2013, 2:31PM
If these women were depressed,  had chronic pain, OCD, etc. everyone would have sympathy and compassion, but because it's Muchausen's, somehow THAT makes them evil?  I disagree.  It's a disease - a compulsion - just like OCD!  They need psychiatric treatment.  Now that the "gig is up", I think treatment would be fairly straightforward.  I think lack of attention during their illness would help.  Give them their instructions on how to take care of the bacterial infections or disorders and NO ONE is to help.  It is obvious they both have mental issues, so treatment is certainly needed in the psychiatric realm, but we as a society can't just cast them off b/c they suffer from a MENTAL DISEASE that we happen think is "disgusting".  Believe me, they are NOT the only ones sucking from our government.  They are just the ones willing to admit it.  Munchausen's is a disease.  Let's not forget that.
 
Replied By: diamonddiva on Oct 10, 2013, 11:02AM - In reply to secretsunravel
COMPASSION? We save our compassion for those who truly need it, like Tin's poor husband, who she's turned into a nursemaid. SHE needs to be in a nursing home and HE needs to divorce that loony toon & live a far better life than he has with Tina!
 
Replied By: diamonddiva on Oct 10, 2013, 11:00AM - In reply to emfanatic
Samantha, I have NO sympathy for you, & sympathy sounds exactly like what you're looking for. Oh, poor you, an unwated mental illness-woman, at least you're not DYING of your imaginary issues, unlike those people who are TRULY ill who you've so disrespected by playing the games you've played. I have a dear friend who has severe MS, has gone thru 1 remission, is in her 50's, & since you're so experienced with that disease, you know she's now literally under a death sentence. Most MS treatment seems to be reserved for children who respond better, not for those in my friend's older shoes. I don't feel that you're embarassed or ashamed-I think you have playing people down to a fine art & you're STILL playing us & Dr Phil. People like you and Tina should be charged & convicted of FRAUD for scamming the taxpayers(like me) out of $$ for treatment of manufactured "illnesses".
 
Replied By: emfanatic on Oct 10, 2013, 3:41AM - In reply to zeldazelda
I am Samantha and there are some things you just said about me that I'd have to agree with simply because you only saw a very narrow view of me in that short interview. It did look like I was pleased with myself when I look back on it now, but I know that I was very nervous and that's what that looks like. In actual fact, everything I revealed about my past embarrassed me and I am deeply ashamed. Yes, I did get good at feigning illness and that is a very hard thing to do. I derived a lot of self-esteem from that at the time which made me want to do it again, like an addiction. But I've had a lot of therapy since then and now I get my self-esteem and other needs met in healthy ways. I don't need to fake illnesses anymore. I don't even have dreams at night about it anymore and that's a huge relief for me, one that I hadn't expected to ever go away. I used to be totally obsessed about it.


Munchausen Syndrome is a mental illness that I was plagued with daily that I no longer have to struggle with. It took many many years of psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy and lots of courage and my life has significantly changed. My thinking has changed. I do have empathy. I always have had empathy. My behavior was so incongruent with my value system that it caused such extreme distress that after faking illnesses, I would often feel suicidal because of the guilt. That defines mental illness. I did not have control over these thoughts and actions. All I wished for was the desire to be sick to go away. I would not wish this torture on my worst enemy and I started feeling this way since I was 11 years old.

As for giving back to society, I volunteer on hospital committees as a patient representative. We make decisions that improve patient care. Just this morning, I was given a present in appreciation of my services. This is an example of a healthy way I now gain respect and self-esteem while hopefully helping others. My life has meaning now as I continue to heal and recover. I have hope for myself and through the show, my wish was to give hope to others who are suffering with this same illness. They can recover too.
 
Replied By: emfanatic on Oct 10, 2013, 3:02AM - In reply to parkgrant
I am Samantha, the second woman on the show. There's just so much more about my life that didn't get portrayed that may help you understand "what is wrong with these people" as you ask.

I really understand you taking personal offence at me faking multiple sclerosis especially since you are suffering from that terrible illness. I agree that it is one of the worst illnesses one can have. My mother had it since I was about 11 years old and I looked after her most of my life. That part of my story was cut from the show unfortunately along with other contributing factors to the cause of my illness.

From the early age of 11, I was having dreams of being sick that disturbed me constantly and I couldn't shake them. I was embarrassed about these dreams that turned to waking thoughts that plagued me constantly. As I got older, it just got worse and knowing how disgusting the thoughts were, I was too ashamed to get help. When I was overwhelmed by my first real depression, after my father died of cancer, I could no longer resist the urges to act on these thoughts and started faking illnesses. One of the easiest ones was to fake MS because I was very familiar with it. This Munchausen Syndrome is a real mental illness,one that I did not decide to have and did not want to have. I hope I have helped you understand it a little better.
 
Showing 1-10 of total 97 Comments