This is a review of the "I read it so you don't have to" variety. You may recall that a few weeks ago there was a tragic Munchausen's by proxy (MBP) death in Massachusetts due to a mother repeatedly dosing her five year old son with toxic levels of sodium. At the time the above book came to my attention as a quality first person account of the experiences of a child whose mother had the disorder. So I was excited; this is one of those areas of the psyche in extremis that fascinates me.

The book is a straightforward account of the medical treatments and other abuses suffered by the author and her brother at the hands of their parents. Because it is told in the first person present, I assume to convey a sense of immediacy, there is no reflection on or analysis of what is transpiring, it's simply described. The abuse is bad, not what I would describe as absolutely harrowing, just more tragic. She includes copies of medical documentation for our review which is interesting, but it is mostly a laundry list of the terrible things the author suffered at the hands of her parents and the doctors who failed to identify what was happening.

Which leads me to the main criticism: the book could have benefited from additional perspective on MBP and the problem of diagnosing it. Surprisingly it devotes very little time to discussion of the disorder, maybe a half page of quotes from the psychology lecture the author was attending when she first learned of MBP and that her mother likely suffered from it. It really actually never defines it, nor does the author mention ever consulting anyone who might have been able to confirm the diagnosis she is claiming (although it does seem clear that her mother was abusing her in a fashion consistent with MBP).

Her mother's psychology is dispatched with a brief throwaway interpretation given by a therapist who tells the writer her mother, herself a trauma victim, wanted to "cannibalize" her and that the MBP was her way of doing so. That seems rather obscure, particularly given that the book suffers for not providing us any context on the general psychology of MBP. The author makes only the most passing references to the secondary gains that likely redounded to her mother as she garnered more and more attention from her child's doctors, for instance. I just kept wanting to shake the author and tell her to do a little research, or share her background knowledge with her readers.

The tl;dr here is that this is a worthwhile read if you are curious about the subjective experience of one MBP victim but it won't provide you with a solid knowledge base on the disorder, and there is really very little that can be reasonably generalized from her account unless you have prior knowledge of MBP and how it operates.