Munchausen By Proxy

Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Margery Williams

I became Real when I left The Haven.

I have recently been reading up on ‘Munchausen by proxy’ and it seems a syndrome that has been common in people I have known. Ironically, it was at The Haven that I first heard that we repeat childhood patterns in hopes that they will end differently.

They don’t.

I love the Velveteen Rabbit but I think that the rabbit should become angry upon becoming real; angry that anyone would instead keep him Unreal.

I believe that Munchausen by proxy and the hero complex are actually the same syndrome. Perhaps Munchausen is more common in women. Both have their psychological needs met through a child or someone in an unequal role.

In the most extreme cases, an adult will make a child sick for attention from medical professionals or will cause a disaster (such as a fire) only to be the one to step in to save the day.

However, the same pattern can happen in far more subtle ways.

At The Haven this dynamic flourishes. Some wanted me to be a pet, others a child, others a broken toy they could sell off as their own (once fixed). Some wanted me to be fixed, others didn’t. Even those who might have seemed to want me fixed didn’t really, for then the game would end. I learned to play my part. I became less and less Real.

I would argue that this pattern repeats at The Haven for these reasons:

The Haven attracts people who have had difficulty in life (and these are the people who become leaders and repeat the same pattern they had been taught)

There is no system of ethics to prevent the pattern from running wild

Those who do not conform have no way of speaking up

In a case study of satanic abuse, Ben and Jock describe themselves as using love to replace the horrors of the abuse. It is even suggested that this love cured cancer. To me, this is narcissism. Professionals cannot try to replace every damaged relationship from a client’s past. This is a huge problem at The Haven, leaders often view it as their position to become the mother or father that wasn’t there. For me this was particularly challenging as the position they were trying to replace was the hero itself. It seems somewhat like a bad joke, in hindsight.

No one can replace a lost childhood, nor should they try. The professional’s job should not be to replace missing relationships. This only teaches that relationships are created out of a need for a savior. This taught me that people would only love me if I was broken and less equal.

This also teaches that if one claims that the abuse has been replaced with love, that this new person has replaced all old wounds, one will be forever rewarded. It is the crushing love of the people who first bought an Unreal rabbit and kept it small and paralyzed.

That was my version of love too.

The Haven claims that they don’t want to fix people but the way that they took over my life suggests otherwise. Some wanted to fix me, others wanted to keep me small and dependent. In every case, I was helping fulfill the counsellor’s needs. I read people very well, unfortunately, so I knew how to do this seamlessly. I knew how to let my inner voice vanish. I was as good as a rabbit. I started to really believe that my only value was in being young, broken and cute (none of which I still am).

Munchausen was how I ended up at The Haven to begin with. Doing adult programs as a teenager, while other teenagers were off doing teenager things, sent the message that there was something wrong with me. There was something wrong with my environment, but given the enmeshed relationships, this was never uncovered. Especially since the same pattern that existed at home existed at The Haven. I played the sick role only when I thought it would give someone the validation they were searching for. No where else has this worked as well as it worked at The Haven.

There were professionals in my life that did help, but that mostly came much later. The biggest differences between them and The Haven were the existence of professional boundaries and the appropriate training. I was given the keys to become fully Real and fully capable. I wish I hadn’t lost them somewhere between then and now.

It’s always in the last place you look.

Overview of the article can be found here:

This link no longer works–coincidence? I will look for an overview elsewhere. You can also always order the article/issue.