Why would anyone deliberately try to create illness or injury? That's the startling subject of the extraordinary new book, Secrets Unraveled: Overcoming Munchausen Syndrome, co-written by a psychologist and his remarkable patient. Munchausen Syndrome, or Factitious Disorder, is a rare and intriguing condition where the person repeatedly and secretively tries to create illness or injury in an attempt to get attention and love. Hundreds of hospitalizations can occur in a patient's life, with medical staff, family, and friends left in the dark about why such a thing is happening. Patients will often travel from hospital to hospital fooling medical professionals. In the direst cases, they die. Dr. Thomas G. Hall is a clinical psychologist who treated such a patient. Raised under terrifying abuse by her father, a Holocaust survivor, the patient begins the pattern of creating illness and injury in herself in order to feel a semblance of control in what is a very dangerous world for her. Secrets Unraveled: Overcoming Munchausen Syndrome is Dr. Hall's attempt to lay bare what happens to people with this condition, and offer explanation and insight into such a baffling and complex disorder. Delving exhaustively into the patient's abusive childhood and her mental disorder, the doctor finds innovative treatment that generates a startling outcome. Inspirational for both the layperson and the clinician and for anyone suffering from this disorder, Secrets Unraveled: Overcoming Munchausen Syndrome presents a skillfully documented case of recovery through psychotherapy. But this book is also unique in that it is co-written in alternating sections by patient and therapist, which gives it an amazing authenticity and an unusual slant. "With the right help, people can overcome devastating mental illness," says the psychologist. Brave, bold, and inspiring, Secrets Unraveled: Overcoming Munchausen Syndrome offers hope and support, as well as a gripping read.
Dr. Thomas G. Hall is a clinical psychologist who treated a patient with Factitious Disorder or Munchausen Syndrome, a condition rarely discussed or cured. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Tufts University in 1981 and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fordham University in 1992. Dr. Hall worked as a psychotherapist in many different settings and started a private practice in upstate New York in 1999. He has worked extensively with victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and childhood trauma. After ending therapy with Dr. Hall, Andrea Avigal obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. She will receive a Masters in Social Work in 2012.