Munchausen’s syndrome is a type of factitious disorder, which means it is not an actual illness. The term was created in 1951 by Hans Munchausen, the protagonist of a series of German folktales from the 18th century. He was known for telling outrageous stories about himself and his life experiences. Hence the name given to this form of mental illness – one that involves fabricating or exaggerating medical problems.
The syndrome is often associated with attention-seeking behavior, and those affected by it may go to great lengths to deceive others into thinking that they are ill. They can also be very manipulative, which is an obvious trait of psychopaths.
They may go to the extent of falsifying test results and even induce symptoms on purpose. This can be dangerous because it can lead to unnecessary medical procedures that carry risks of their own.
Munchausen’s syndrome is often used in terms of political-theoretical context. It has been invoked to describe a variety of deceptive behavior, such as false or exaggerated claims to military success made by leaders.
It is suggested that politicians and other leaders may be motivated to lie about their accomplishments, or those of the groups they lead (such as military forces), because it eases the process of manipulating public opinion. This in turn can bolster their image as effective leaders. The year 2020 has shown us that delusional personalities can thrive in America full of conspiracy theorists.
The syndrome has also been suggested to be associated with some conspiracy theories, such as the belief in a New World Order.