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Marybeth Tinning and a fatal need for attention

Posted on 08-20-2015 Posted in Mental Health - 0 Comments


In 1987, Marybeth Tinning was sentenced to 20 years to life at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for suffocating her four-month-old daughter, Tami Lynne, in December 1985. None of Tinning’s nine children—eight biological, one adopted—lived past the age of four. Authorities suspect that Tinning murdered all her children, save one. She was last denied parole in January 2015.

Tinning was a nurse reportedly stuck in a loveless marriage—eight children notwithstanding. In 1972, her 8-year-old daughter, Jennifer, died of meningitis. Friends, family and neighbors showered sympathy on Tinning. Three weeks after the death of her daughter, Tinning’s two-year-old son, Joseph, died mysteriously. Absent an autopsy, doctors declared the boy died from seizure disorder and a viral infection. Over the next 13 years, five more of Tinning’s children died under mysterious circumstances.

Factitious disorder imposed on another

Factitious disorder imposed on another—FDIA—is a mental disorder where the perpetrator, usually a caretaker, harms the person in their care in order to receive attention and sympathy. The disorder was previously known as factitious disorder by proxy but is most commonly known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy—MSBP. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition—DSM 5, individuals with FDIA adapt their methodology to fit a particular scenario. For example, an individual might doctor their child’s medical history or medical tests or induce illness by feeding the child something sure to make it ill. In one case, a mother injected fecal matter into her son to make him ill.

It is unclear if Marybeth Tinning was ever diagnosed with FDIA or MSBP. With respect to recurring episodes, some believe Tinning’s behavior perfectly aligns with the DSM 5’s Development and Course section on the disorder: “In individuals with recurrent episodes of falsification of signs and symptoms of illness and/or induction of injury, this pattern of successive deceptive contact with medical personnel, including hospitalizations, may become lifelong.” According to the DSM 5, the prevalence of FDIA is not known. Roughly one percent of hospitalized patients show signs of the disorder. At present, there is no known prevention of FDIA or MSBP.

Factitious disorder imposed on self — FDIS

According to the DSM 5, FDIA differs from FDIS in two respects. First, someone suffering from FDIS presents his or herself as being sick or injured. Second, this individual will injure or cause his or herself to be sick in order to bolster the deception to others. Otherwise, the rewards are the same: sympathy, attention and even adulation, for example: bearing up under sickness or injury.

Getting help in Fort Myers, Florida

Sovereign Health Group’s Fort Myers, Florida facility treats all kinds of mental disorders, including FDIA. One of the treatments proven effective in treating personality and behavior disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy—CBT. CBT corrects the faulty thinking which leads individuals to harm themselves and others. Another therapy proven effective in treating behavioral disorders is Solution Focused Brief Therapy. In Solution Focused Brief Therapy, the therapist guides the patient through the process of creating solutions as opposed to dwelling on perceived failures of the past. According to the DSM 5, individuals with FDIA attempt to fill the emotional void in their life by earning sympathy. Solution Focused Brief Therapy channels the client’s energy into more productive ways of feeling fulfilled.

If you have thoughts about harming yourself or another, please contact 866-269-2493 and speak to one of our admission specialists. We can help.

Written by Darren Fraser, Sovereign Health Group writer

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