Munchausen syndrome is named after Baron von Munchausen who was in the German military and is noted for his extensive travels during which he told fantastic tales about his imaginary exploits. In 1951 Richard Asher applied the Baron's name to people who reported into hospitals fabricating histories or symptoms of illnesses. His name now has become synonymous with a disorder in which a person intentionally fakes, simulates, worsens, or self-induces an injury or illness for the main purpose of being treated like a medical patient. A related condition, called Munchausen by proxy syndrome, refers to a caregiver who fakes symptoms by causing injury to someone else, often a child, and then wants to be with that person in a hospital or similar medical setting. It is the latter syndrome that was associated with Zabeth by someone who called in a report of concern to the MCFD. That person could have remained anonymous but didn't and in fact was identified in court when he gave testimony. He testified that during his professional training he had become acquainted with the term and its signs and in observing both Zabeth and her children, although unqualified professionally to make a definitive assessment, concluded Zabeth may be suffering this disorder. The timing of that call to MCFD approximate to the time of the Bayne infant's admission to and examination in Children's Hospital in Vancouver fueled the MCFD persuasion that the children needed protection. That combination of factors has led the Bayne family to the point today that the fate of their family rests with a provincial judge who will decide whether evidence presented by the Ministry lawyer proves that Paul and Zabeth are unfit parents who should never have custody of their children again in this life, or whether they should receive those children back immediately because the Ministry file folder containing three years of data on the Baynes is filled with subjective and biased hearsay rather than conclusive evidence.
Did Zabeth actually do what the syndrome scenario suggests? For one moment do you think that when her small daughter vomited, didn't eat, didn't poop, couldn't breath, didn't respond to stimuli and she took the child to hospitals and clinics in Hope, Chilliwack and Abbotsford over a period of days because no one was making an accurate diagnosis, that she was actually trying to gain attention for herself? Was she so needy that she inflicted injury to her child so that she would have reason to go the hospital and make a scene? No, Munchausen doesn't relate to her daughter's life in even the remotest sense. MCFD has never attested that it accepts the Munchausen possibility but it has not needed to because a medical diagnosis at Children's Hospital assessed the daughter's condition and speculated that it derived from non accidental trauma, that is an inflicted wounding. So regardless of the motivation, the implication is that mom did it, or dad did it. If the diagnosis of these symptoms was as conclusive as Children's Hospital or MCFD have maintained for almost three years, Paul and Zabeth would not have a hope. However, the ministry case in court has been paper thin. The Ministry lawyer's problem is that shaking a baby, as horrific an act as it is, is not the only probable cause for what the baby suffered in 2007 and has since then. That is why August 9-13 is so important as the Baynes present the alternative medical expert opinions that controvert the SBS diagnosis and which MCFD should have been diligent to pursue if quality investigation is a Ministry commitment.
It has been and it is an uphill battle for this mom to establish credibility which she lost involuntarily. She didn't need attention. She received it naturally and deservedly as a concert pianist and a music instructor. She is not now personally thriving on the media attention by which she hopes to regain her children, but rather is wilting under the discourtesies of insinuations and allegations. She is compelled to be a parent by proxy. She would much prefer to slip quietly away in the embrace of her three children, never to be heard from again.