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Is it a mental problem?


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I am a father of two lovely daughters. The elder is of 3 yr and 6 months and the younger one is of 2yr and 2 months old. Both of them are very much intimate to each other. None allows others to scold the other, though like any other child they also have quarrels / fighting amongst them.

My first daughter often complained for abdominal pain since few months. After consulting many child specialists in my country I finally met Prof. Sirajul Islm, one of the leading child specialist in the country. He examined my daughty and finally concluded that she is not suffering from any physical problem rather she is pretending to have some sufferings to acquire the favour of her parents. Though it is very difficult for me to consume but I am really anxious about the matter. Is it really a pretension? Is she really suffering from any kind of mental disorder? Is it curable? What I need to do to bring her back to the right track?

I will be very grateful to all of you if I get some idea related to the situation.

I think following information about our family background and lifestyle may help you to assess the situation correctly:

a. There is no history of any sort of mental imbalance in any of the near even of distance branches of both of our family(myself and my wife).

b. We live a very peaceful life in house.

c. I was away from my family for one year under a UN Mission since she was only 05 months old.

d. Presently (for last one month) due to the nature of our job, I am staying about 400 km away from the kids. They are staying with their mother and other members of my in-laws family.

e. In my workplace where they had been staying so far, there are enough free space for the kids to play around. But the place where they are staying now does not have any open place like earlier though they have some friends of similar age group.

Thank you very much.

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Hi Rzillulah-

Thanks for your post and welcome to our community. I will admit that I am not a child psychologist (I am a psychologist with expertise in working with older adults), so I can only offer you some general information and recommendations to get you started. In addition, I am providing you information based on diagnosis criteria published in the DSM-IV, which is the gold standard diagnostic manual for mental illnesses used in the United States. Different labels and descriptions may be used outside the U.S.

What you are describing could be symptoms of a type of mental illness called a Somatoform Disorder. More specifically, she could have a Conversion Disorder or a Somatization Disorder. Both involve the experience of sensory, digestive, and/or and neurological type symptoms (such as temporary paralysis of an arm or leg, irritable bowel symptoms (which your daughter may have), or temporary blindness). The main difference between the 2 disorders is that the person has more symptoms and more pronounced symptoms that have persisted for a longer time in Somatization Disorder as compared to Conversion. In these types of conditions, the person is not deliberately falsifying symptoms.

Conversely, she may have a condition called a Factitious Disorder. These conditions are where a person acts as if he or she has an illness by deliberately producing, feigning, or exaggerating symptoms to gain attention, nurturance, sympathy, and/or leniency that are unobtainable any other way.

I do not have enough information to determine whether or not she is experiencing any of these disorders, nor whether she is deliberately showing symptoms or not. It sounds to me like your professional was learning toward a diagnosis of Factitious Disorder. However, all of these conditions should be further assessed and treated as soon as possible, so additional problems do not occur. You mentioned that she was seen by an expert. Was this an expert in mental health? If not, could that person provide you with a recommendation for a referral to a mental health professional that could help? Or, if the person is a mental health professional, would he provide therapy himself (or someone in his office)?

The best approach for a child of this age would be to involve the whole family in therapy. You really need a family plan (where everyone works as a team) to successfully address this type of issue. I think that one of the main goals would be to teach your daughter more appropriate strategies for gaining the attention she craves (regardless of the diagnosis). In addition, the therapist could work with your family to develop a plan to help increase her appropriate behaviors (by encouraging and rewarding them) and tell you what to do when she acts in inappropriate ways (how to discourage and/or use non physical disciplinary techniques to decrease behavior).

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  • 1 month later...

I am not a psych. Doctor . I have 20 years experience as a preschool teacher though, and a single mom . My son is developmentally disabled, and a teenager.

After reading your post , here is what I believe. Your child has learned to say her tummy hurts for attention. She wants to be noticed and wants all the attention given to her.

I personally would not start thinking of any mental disorders yet, due to he age. Little children are the best manipulater's of their parents !

She does not have anything wrong with her physically, and now this has become an attention seeking behavior she knows how to do. If i were her parent, and my little girl did that, i'd say to her, in a matter of fact voice, "go use the potty" so you can feel better. I would not cater to her, and make it a big deal. This is what she wants.

I would then start giving her positive attention and praise when she does something helpful, and nice. I would make that a big deal. Instead of encouraging her to over dramatize her " make believe tummy troubles."

It is amazing what happens when an adult gives little or no attention to negative, or made up symtoms, in their child.

Sometimes, A parent can unwittingly encourage the behaviors that they do not want to see.

Now that is estabilished your child is ok physically, your going to have to work hard in turning off her learned behavior.

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